What is a Port of Refuge?

A port of refuge is a port or place that the vessel diverts to when her master considers it unsafe to continue the voyage due to a issue that threatens the “common safety”,

The issue of “places of refuge” is one aspect of contingency planning in the consideration of which the rights and interests of coastal States as well as the need to render assistance to vessels that are damaged or disabled or otherwise in distress at sea ought to be taken into account.


In November 2003, the IMO Asembly adopted two resolutions addressing the issue of places of refuge for ships in distress – an important step in assisting those involved in incidents that may lead to the need for a place of refuge to make the right decisions at the right time.