The Marine Safety Investigation Unit (MSIU) is an independent Government investigation Unit.  The MSIU, which is managed by the Head of Marine Safety Investigation, is independent in its organisation and decision-making process from the policy maker, regulator, and any other party whose interests could conflict with the tasks entrusted to the MSIU.
The MSIU is tasked to contribute to maritime safety by carrying out safety investigations into accidents and incidents, and participate in safety studies and academic research.
The MSIU is established by the Merchant Shipping (Accident and Incident Safety Investigation) Regulations 2011.  Its safety investigations are conducted in accordance with the provisions prescribed in these regulations.  The MSIU does not investigate to apportion blame and / or determine civil / criminal liabilities.  The Unit has significant authority to investigate marine accidents and incidents and no entity other than the MSIU may commence a safety investigation into a marine accident and incident.
Malta is a major stakeholder in the maritime industry, whilst its geographical position in the Mediterranean Sea makes its waters amongst the busiest in Europe.  The MSIU has the legal mandate to investigate accidents and incidents involving Maltese registered ships anywhere in the world, and foreign flagged ships navigating and trading within Maltese waters.  Masters, ship operators, ships managers and Transport Malta are required to report accidents and incidents as soon as practicable to the MSIU.
A typical safety investigation normally takes about 12 months to complete, depending on the accident dynamics and its complexity.  The safety investigation reports compiled by the MSIU are published after the safety investigation process is completed.  However, these reports and most of the collected evidence are inadmissible in a court of law and cannot be used in criminal and civil proceedings.  Their only scope is the dissemination of safety lessons and the prevention of similar future accidents and incidents.
Malta is an active member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations’ specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.  The MSIU has an active role and is a member of the Maltese delegation at the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III).  The MSIU is also a member of the European Commission’s Permanent Co-operation Framework, the Marine Accident Investigators International Forum, and the European Maritime Investigators Forum.