Safety update

October 2015 Nairobi International Convention on the removal of wrecks (REF NWRC 01 15)

This safety update is issued to provide advice on the impact of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (NWRC) on New Zealand ships undertaking international voyages.


(Information) The NWRC came into force internationally on 14 April 2015.

The NWRC provides a set of uniform international rules aimed at ensuring the prompt and effective removal of wrecks located beyond the territorial sea.

It provides State Parties with a legal basis for dealing with wrecks along their coastlines and in waters around their coasts where these wrecks pose a hazard to the safety of navigation or the marine environment. It includes provisions on reporting and locating ships and wrecks and criteria for determining the hazard posed by wrecks (including environmental hazards). It also regulates measures to facilitate the removal of wrecks as well as establishing the liability of the owner for the costs of locating, marking and removing ships and wrecks. The registered ship owner is required to maintain compulsory insurance or other financial security to cover liability under the NWRC. The NWRC applies to wrecks in the “Convention Area” which will generally be the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or equivalent area. A State can extend its Convention Area and apply the provisions of the NWRC to wrecks within the territorial limits.

Party states

As at September 2015 the States Party to NWRC are:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bulgaria
  • Congo
  • Cook Islands
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • India
  • Iran (Islamic Republic of)
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Malaysia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Palau
  • United Kingdom.

Impact on NZ ships

While New Zealand is not a Party to the NWRC, New Zealand ships that operate in the Convention Area of a country that is a Party to the NWRC (e.g. its exclusive economic zone or equivalent area, and, if elected by that State, its territorial sea) will be subject to the NWRC.

For any ship of 300 gross tonnage and above (wherever registered) that enters into or leaves a port in the territory of a State that is a Party to NWRC that includes the requirement to have insurance or other financial security (such as a guarantee of a bank or similar institution), to cover liability under the Convention.

  • The insurance or financial security must be in an amount equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime, but in all cases not exceeding an amount calculated in accordance with article 6(1)(b) of the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976, as amended; and
  • A Certificate confirming that insurance or other financial security is in force in accordance with the provisions of the Convention must be held;
  • The Certificate of Insurance should be carried on board the ship.
  • This means New Zealand ships of 300 gross registered tonnage or more which visit a country that is a Party to the Convention, must have the appropriate insurance or financial security and carry a certificate as evidence of insurance covering liability for removal of a hazardous wreck.

Where to get a Certificate

As New Zealand is not a State Party to NRWC the Director of Maritime New Zealand cannot issue NRWC Certificates in accordance with Article 12. However, other States that are a Party to the convention can issue these Certificates to New Zealand ships and they will be recognised by all other State Parties.

What to Do

The Owner of a New Zealand ship that undertakes international voyages should confirm, before departure, whether any country where it might make a port call to is a Party to the NWRC. If yes:

  • You will need to contact your P & I Club/insurer to obtain the necessary insurance or arrange alternative financial security for liabilities under NWRC;
  • Contact that State or another State Party to confirm the process for making an application for an NWRC certificate;
  • Make the application and obtain the Certificate before making a port call to any country that is Party to the NWRC;
  • Ensure the Certificate is kept on board the ship.

Note that an application may incur a fee, and processing time for applications may vary between States.

To avoid unnecessary delay, owners are advised to make any applications as early as possible.

Original source content - Guidance Notice Issue 24, October 2015: Nairobi International Convention on the removal of wrecks (REF NWRC 01/15).

Email updates

Get an email notification when a safety update is available online.


Contact us for more help

If you have any questions about this safety update, please contact our Wellington office.


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 522

Call Maritime New Zealand now

Tell us what you need help with and remember to include your contact details (email address and phone numbers).