A seafarers’ union has condemned UK government plans to revoke four shipping safety regulations introduced after the 1987 Herald of Free Enterprise ferry disaster in which 193 people died.
Nautilus International has accused the government of putting costs before safety in its ‘repugnant’ plan to scrap the requirements for roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ships to be fitted with on-deck emergency equipment lockers containing axes, crowbars, lifting gear and ladders.
In its response to a public consultation on the proposals, Nautilus argues the move is being “driven by deregulatory dogma” and that it is wholly unacceptable to consider removing equipment that could help to save lives in an emergency. It adds the proposals have been built on a “dangerously complacent” assumption that the root causes of the Herald disaster have been addressed by subsequent safety measures.
The union says emergency equipment lockers are more important than ever because of the increasing size of ferries. “The importance of such equipment — or the lack of it — was demonstrated in the recent Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea,” Nautilus said. Around 300 are thought to have died in the April 2014 sinking.
In July, UK national union federation TUC described the move to weaken the onboard safety requirements as another example of “stupid, dangerous, ideologically-driven, anti-regulatory, claptrap”.