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A maritime accident means an event, or a sequence of events, that has resulted in any of the following which has occurred directly in connection with the operations of a ship: the death of, or serious injury to, a person (serious injury means an injury which is sustained by a person, resulting in incapacitation where the person is unable to function normally for more than 72 hours, commencing within seven days from the date when the injury was suffered); the loss of a person from a ship; the loss, presumed loss or abandonment of a ship; material damage to a ship; the stranding or disabling of a ship, or the involvement of a ship in a collision; material damage to marine infrastructure external to a ship, that could seriously endanger the safety of the ship, another ship or an individual; or severe damage to the environment, or the potential for severe damage to the environment, brought about by the damage of a ship or ships. However, a maritime accident does not include a deliberate act or omission, with the intention to cause harm to the safety of a ship, an individual or the environment.

Maritime accidents are classified as very serious accidents, serious accidents and less serious accidents.

Very serious accidents are accidents to ships, which involve total loss of the ship, loss of life, or severe pollution.

Serious accidents are accidents to ships, which do not qualify as very serious accidents and which involve a fire, explosion, collision, grounding, contact, heavy weather damage, ice damage, hull cracking, or suspected hull defect, etc., resulting in any of the following:
- immobilization of main engines, extensive accommodation damage, severe structural damage, such as penetration of the hull under water, etc., rendering the ship unfit to proceed;
- pollution (regardless of quantity);
- a breakdown necessitating towage or shore assistance.

Less serious accidents are accidents to ships, which do not qualify as very serious accidents or serious accidents.

Maritime incident means an event, or sequence of events, other than a maritime accident, which has occurred directly in connection with the operations of a ship that endangered, or, if not corrected, would endanger the safety of the ship, its occupants or any other person or the environment. However, a maritime incident does not include a deliberate act or omission, with the intention to cause harm to the safety of a ship, an individual or the environment.

The investigator-in-charge of maritime accidents and incidents, appointed by the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter – investigator-in-charge), carries out safety investigations of maritime accidents and maritime incidents.

The area of responsibility for the investigator-in-charge includes maritime accidents and incidents:
1) which involve a ship flying Lithuanian flag, irrespective of the location of the accident;
2) which occurs within Lithuanian territorial sea or internal waters, as defined in the  1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (areas of Lithuanian ports are classified as internal waters), irrespective of the flag of the ship;
3) which consequences caused significant damage to the environment under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Lithuania, or there was a real risk of such damage;
4) which consequences caused significant damage to the sea or shore infrastructure under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Lithuania or there was a real risk of such damage;
5) where, as a result of a marine accident, nationals of the Republic of Lithuania lost their lives or received serious injuries;
6) for which the competent authority of another state conducting the safety investigation declares that the competent authorities of the Republic of Lithuania have information relevant to the safety investigation of that accident or incident.

The area of responsibility for the investigator-in-charge does not include maritime accidents and incidents involving only:
1) ships of war and troop ships and other ships owned or operated by the Republic of Lithuania and used only on government non-commercial service;
2) inland waterway vessels operating in inland waterways;
3) ships not propelled by mechanical means, wooden ships of primitive build, traditional ships, pleasure yachts and pleasure craft not engaged in trade, unless they are or will be crewed and carrying more than 12 passengers for commercial purposes;
4) fishing vessels with a length of less than 15 metres;
5) fixed offshore drilling units.

In case of a very serious accident the investigator-in-charge shall carry out safety investigation, if the accident:
1) involve a ship flying Lithuanian flag, irrespective of the location of the accident;
2) occurs within Lithuanian territorial sea or internal waters, as defined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, irrespective of the flag of the ship;
3) involves a substantial interest of the Republic of Lithuania.

In case of a serious accident, the investigator-in-charge shall carry out a preliminary assessment in order to evaluate the situation and to decide whether or not to undertake a safety investigation of serious accident. In case of a less serious accident or maritime incident, the investigator-in-charge shall decide whether or not to undertake a safety investigation.

Parallel safety investigations and co-operation
EU Member State‘s safety investigation body, with the participation of any other substantially interested EU Member State‘s safety investigation body, carries out only one safety investigation of the same marine accident or incident. Where a substantially interested third country, which is not EU Member State, is leading a safety investigation, involving one or more EU Member States, investigator-in-charge may decide not to carry out a parallel safety investigation, provided that the safety investigation led by the third country is conducted in accordance with the IMO Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents.

Reporting about maritime accident or maritime incident
Shipping company or the master of the ship must immediately notify the investigator-in-charge in the most expeditious and appropriate manner:
1) in case a maritime accident or an incident occurred in the search and rescue area assigned to the Republic of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea, Klaipėda State Seaport, Šventoji Seaport or in Būtingė Oil Terminal marine area;
2) in case a maritime accident or an incident occurred outside the search and rescue area assigned to the Republic of Lithuania with a ship flying the flag of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre of Lithuanian Armed Forces, the Klaipeda State Seaport Authority JSC and / or other persons or entities, having received information about a maritime accident or incident, must immediately notify the investigator-in-charge.

Maritime accidents or incidents shall be reported to the investigator-in-charge by phone +370 686 74879 or e-mail [email protected] or via reporting system here. Information about the maritime accident or incident shall be provided by e-mail [email protected], by fulfilling template of notification of a maritime accident or incident.

Liability for failure to report maritime accident or maritime incident
Failure to report a maritime accident or maritime incident to the competent authority under the established procedure renders the person administratively liable under Article 401(1) of the Code of Administrative Offences.

Last updated: 16-11-2023