MCA consultation on cuts to Maritime Safety Regulations introduced as a result of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster

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Circular No: NP/141/14

TO ALL SHIPPING AND OFFSHORE BRANCHES, REGIONAL ORGANISERS, REGIONAL COUNCILS, & COUNCIL OF EXECUTIVES.

Our ref: S6/2/14

17th July 2014

Dear Colleagues

MCA consultation on cuts to Maritime Safety Regulations introduced as a result of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster

Further to circular no. NP/117/14 of 4th July 2014, the MCA has announced a further consultation on proposed cuts to maritime safety regulations as a result of the Coalition Government’s Red Tape Challenge. The Government is proposing to cut four maritime safety regulations that were introduced as a result of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster on 6th March 1987 in which 193 passengers and crew lost their lives when the vessel capsized en route from Zeebrugge to Dover.

The proposed changes are unacceptable to the union, particularly the end to the legal requirement to properly weigh and report cargo loads and to fit and maintain emergency equipment lockers on-deck containing axes, crowbars, lifting gear and ladders, on ro-ro passenger ferries. The MCA consultation is on the four following regulations proposed for deletion:

• The Merchant Shipping (Weighing of Goods Vehicles and other Cargo) Regs 1988 Sets out requirements to weigh all road vehicles (except buses) and all non-vehicular items of cargo exceeding 7.5 tonnes for all voyages on ro-ro passenger ships when the ship is being loaded in port. This information must then be passed to the master of the ship in order to prevent dangerous loads and minimise the threat of capsizing due to uneven loads.

• The Merchant Shipping (Weighing of Goods Vehicles and other Cargo) (Amendment) Regs 1989 Amendments to the weighing requirements set out in the above regulation.

• The Merchant Shipping (Weighing of Goods Vehicles and other Cargo) (Application to non-UK Ships) Regs 1989 Applies the weighing and loading requirements stated in the above regulations to non-UK roll on-roll off passenger ships when they are docked in UK ports.

• The Merchant Shipping (Emergency Equipment Lockers for Ro/Ro Passenger Ships) Regs 1988 Legal requirement for UK Roll-On, Roll-Off (Ro-Ro) passenger ships to be fitted with weather-tight emergency lockers on the open deck of the ship which would open if a vessel was capsized. Must be a robust locker stocked with a defined range of good quality, well-maintained emergency equipment such as axes, crowbar, lifting gear and ladders, which can be accessed in all foreseeable circumstances.

The MCA is consulting maritime unions and the shipping industry on the proposal to revoke these regulations and the RMT does not accept the MCA’s argument that other legal requirements such as hull door indicator lights, CCTV on the bow doors and improvements to ship stability design and information justify the removal of these important safety regulations. If RMT seafarers have any points for inclusion in the union’s official response to the MCA, then it would be appreciated if they could be emailed to d.crimes@rmt.org.uk by 8th August 2014 at the latest. You will be alerted to further developments in this area of the Government’s politically motivated attack on the regulatory framework underpinning the safety of workers in the transport and offshore industries.

Please bring the content of this circular to the attention of members in your Branch.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash

Acting General Secretary