30th anniversary of Herald of Free Enterprise disaster

Circular No: NP/033/17


Our ref: S6/2/17

6th March 2017

Dear Colleagues

30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster

Further to circular no. NP/274/14 of 18th December 2014, RMT members and officials today remember the 193 crew and passengers who lost their lives on the Herald of Free Enterprise, en route from Zeebrugge to Dover thirty years ago, today, 6th March 1987.

The union is taking part in the official events in Dover to commemorate all those who died and to offer condolences to the families and loved ones affected, as well as our sympathy and support to those who survived this deeply traumatic incident.

The Herald of Free Enterprise disaster resulted in significant changes to international maritime safety regulations, including the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention. The union remains vigilant and committed to ensuring high and consistent safety standards across all sectors of the shipping industry.  

RMT seafarers, officials and their union successfully fought off industry attempts in 2014 to scrap the legal requirement for emergency equipment lockers on-deck for ro-ro passenger ferries, although we were unable to persuade the Government to retain three regulations covering weight distribution and weighing of cargo.

The proposals for cutting these regulations were brought forward by the shipping industry as part of the Coalition Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge.’ We note that the UK Chamber of Shipping’s Blueprint for Growth document published October 2016 contains a shopping list of regulations which the industry would like to see cut, in areas including vessel stability and minimum hours of rest for seafarers.
As part of the SOS2020 campaign, RMT will be working hard to ensure that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is not used by shipowners to increase the risk to the safety of seafarers and passengers on domestic and international routes from the UK, including on ro-ro passenger ferries. RMT seafarers are encouraged to email SOS2020@rmt.org.uk with any maritime safety or other information or concerns.

It would be appreciated if you could bring the content of this circular to the attention of all members in your Branch.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary