The French marine casualties investigation board (BEAmer) was set up in December 1997.
The primary mission of the BEAmer is to conduct technical investigations into marine casualties to prevent similar accidents in the future.
The BEAmer is also intended to collect, analyse and disseminate information regarding professional practices or lessons learned from investigations into casualties or incidents.
It conducts also special studies and research into experience feedback and accidentology.
Legal and regulatory context
The action of the BEAmer takes place in full compliance with international, European and national rules and notably with the provisions of :
- at the international level, with the « Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Accidents » laid out in Resolution MSC 255 (84) on 16 May 2008 and published by decree n°2010-1577 on 16 December 2010 ;
- at the European level, with the Directive 2009/18/EC of 23 April 2009 establishing the fundemental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and the Commission regulation n°1286/2011 adopting a common methodology for investigating marine casualties and incidents ;
- at the French national level, with the Transportation Code, specially clauses L1621-1 to L1622-2 and R1621-1 to R1621-38 relating to technical investigations after marine casualties and terrestrial accidents or incidents.
BEAmer inquiries concern French-registered civilian vessels, wherever they may be, or vessels flying the flags of other states when the marine casualty or incident occurs in French internal waters or territorial seas.
Inquiries are also conducted when a marine casualty, regardless of where it happened, has led to the death or serious injury of French nationals, or has caused or threatened to cause serious harm to the French territory, the environment, and installations or structures over which France has jurisdiction.
The aim of the enquiries is to collect and analyse relevant information, to determine the circumstances and possible causes and if appropriate, to make recommendations to improve maritime safety and pollution prevention. The overall context of the regulation or its implementation is also apprehended.
The objective of the technical inquiries of BEAmer is neither to determine nor to attribute civil or penal liabilities, which is the role of the judicial inquiry.
The BEAmer is an impartial investigative body, investigators do not receive or seek instructions from any authority or other body whose interests could conflict with the task entrusted to them.
At the end of each investigation, BEAmer releases an investigation report in an appropriate form to the type and severity of the event. This report includes lessons learned and recommendations to improve safety to avoid repetition of the analyzed accidents. The recommendations of recipients have an obligation to inform within 90 days of receipt or other specific deadline, the follow for follow-up of these recommendations.
The specific safety studies carried out by the BEAmer are aimed at producing an overall picture of certain types of marine casualties. Such documents are based on the BEAmer’s own statistical data as well as the expertise of its personnel, investigators and expert consultants. The BEAmer can also ask specialist organizations to conduct studies.
The BEAmer is a national board placed with the Inspector General for Maritime Affairs.
Specialized permanent body, it leads its work independently of the departments of the Ministry responsible for determining and monitoring of safety standards of maritime safety (shipping, fishing sector, pleasure craft).
BEAmer is operated by a core staff of nine persons in Paris and about twenty local delegates and experts. Additional specialised experts are working for the board.
Overseas, In the French overseas departments, there are not distinction with France.
In overseas territories (TOM), the organic laws are applied (New Caledonia - French Polynesia) or specific competences (Wallis and Futuna Islands and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories).
In these communities, Directive 2009/18 / EC doesn’t apply.