How it all began
The night before Christmas....
On Christmas Eve 1968 the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd (ITOPF) was officially established. Its principal purpose was to administer TOVALOP, a unique voluntary oil pollution compensation scheme set up by shipowners and their insurers.
- TORREY CANYON runs aground off the Cornish coast, this focuses the world’s attention on the risks and environmental impacts of major marine spills and is a catalyst for positive change.
- An IMCO conference in Brussels drafts the 1969 Civil Liability Convention (CLC) based upon TOVALOP, with strict liability and compulsory insurance.
- ITOPF officially established to administer TOVALOP
- TOVALOP comes into force upon securing 50% of the world’s tanker tonnage as Members.
In the early 70s “oil pollution response was handled with notably little enthusiasm and even less ability. I saw this first hand at the spills I attended in my first two years at the Federation. It was not difficult for the Federation to provide the enthusiasm and, with time, experience alone went a long way to make up for any lack of knowledge.” Mike Garnett, Technical Manager, 1975-1987
- A Technical Department is established to give immediate “fire-brigade” assistance whenever and wherever an oil spill might occur.
- MT SAIJA, off Corsica, is the first incident attended by an ITOPF Technical Adviser, producing the first ITOPF Sitrep.
- Mike Garnett, formerly of the Royal Navy, joins ITOPF in 1973, becoming Technical Manager in 1975.
- ITOPF starts to provide advice to governments and oil companies on contingency planning.
- ITOPF launches a database of statistics on the number and type of oil spills from tankers occurring in the world.
- Work begins on establishing a comprehensive technical information service and library on oil pollution.
- ITOPF undertakes its first consultancy assignment - a survey of spill response arrangements in 18 countries for the European Economic Community (EEC).
- ITOPF has its first peer-reviewed paper published (Marine Pollution Bulletin).
“Whilst the number of major oil spills from tankers continues to fall, the tanker industry remains alive to the importance of promoting effective pollution prevention measures. The continuous work of the Federation in improving spill preparedness and response demonstrates the collective commitment of the world’s shipowners to protecting the environment.” Dr Helmut Sohmen, Chairman, 2001-2006
- ITOPF issues its first newsletter to Members.
- ITOPF is granted Observer status by IMO and the IOPC Fund.
- The first Technical Information Paper (TIP) is published.
- ITOPF undertakes its first major training assignment (IMO Regional Training Course, Chile).
- ITOPF acquires a mini-computer incorporating a word processor.
- ITOPF makes its first foray into film making with the production of a 5-part series of training videos "Response to Marine Oil Spills".
- Ian White and Joe Nichols take charge as Managing Director and Technical Manager respectively overseeing a team of 10 staff.
- ITOPF publishes first edition of its “Response to Marine Oil Spills” book.
“ITOPF is committed to joining its partners in continued support for effective spill response arrangements. As maritime trade continues to expand to accommodate the needs of emerging economies, it is important that all nations and all parties embrace the principles enshrined in the array of international standards and legal instruments, which have stood the test of time.” Bjorn Moller, Chairman, 2006-2014
- ITOPF takes an active role in the diplomatic conference that finalises the OPRC Convention and participates in meetings of the OPRC Working Group at IMO.
- TOVALOP is terminated as the international compensation Conventions gain wider acceptance. The provision of technical services now becomes ITOPF’s primary function.
- The first ITOPF logo appears, affectionately known as ‘the snail’.
- The first edition of “Ocean Orbit” is published.
- ITOPF employs its first female Technical Adviser.
- ITOPF launches its first website.
“In a world where accidents cannot be predicted it is reassuring to know that an organisation with the depth of experience as exists amongst the team in ITOPF can be relied upon to provide objective, science-based technical support to those involved in an incident, no matter whether they be the owner, insurer or claimant.” Paddy Rodgers, Chairman, 2014-Present
- In 2003 ITOPF was recognised for its “outstanding services for the benefit of the marine environment” by winning the Thor Heyerdahl International Maritime Environmental Award.
- ITOPF delivers its first chemical response training course (East Asia Response Ltd, Singapore)
- ITOPF develops an in-house GIS.
- ITOPF moves to its current premises in Oliver’s Yard.
“The staff are, and always will be, core to the success of ITOPF. We owe a debt of gratitude, and remember with fondness, those before us who were key to making ITOPF the successful organisation it is today. Our team has built on the foundations laid over the past 50 years and is poised to ensure ITOPF excels in delivering its uniquely valuable services over the next 50.” Karen Purnell, Managing Director, 2009-Present
- The ITOPF R&D Award is established, providing up to £50,000 each year to encourage innovative thinking and provide realistic solutions to the challenges of spill response and environmental monitoring.
- ITOPF becomes a visiting professor at the World Maritime University in Sweden.
- A new set of TIPs is published.
- A children’s website and games app are released.
- A new film “Oil spills in cold climates” is produced.
- ITOPF organises an exhibition with IMO and IOPC Funds to mark 50 years of government/industry partnership to reduce the risk of oil pollution from ships.
- ITOPF launch a new logo to celebrate its 50 year anniversary.
Created with images by ITOPF Photos Mariamichelle - "cruise ship waves caribbean desktop" • Shaah Shahidh - "untitled image" • Eric Nopanen - "Boombox" • PublicDomainPictures - "freighter cargo ship industry port goods transportation"