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Shipping: Accidents

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will commission the Health and Safety Executive to undertake research into the circumstances surrounding the capsize of (a) offshore oil-rig support tugs and (b) other vessels in UK and international waters in the last five years for the purposes of improving safety measures in relation to escape routes from such vessels. (279865)

The safety of vessels, including offshore oil-rig support tugs, is a matter for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) rather than the Health and Safety Executive.

A comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding the capsize of an offshore oil-rig support tug has been completed recently by the Norwegian maritime administration. The conclusions of this review are to be incorporated as appropriate into the “North West European Area Guidelines for the Safe Management of Offshore Supply and Anchor Handling Operations” (NWEA Guidelines) and into international safety regulations under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation.

The MCA fully endorses the outcome of the Norwegian review, welcomes the improvements to the NWEA Guidelines and believes that further research would not enhance what has already been done recently in this area. In particular, it is considered that current requirements for escape routes from ships are adequate for the risks faced, and that special escape routes from capsized vessels would be impractical and might even increase risk to lives and vessels.