Lessons have been learned

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - THE HERALD -

SAFETY mea­sures for fer­ries which were rec­om­mended by the Court of In­quiry, came into force within a year of the ac­ci­dent. And dur­ing the 20 years since the Her­ald tragedy, the ferry in­dus­try has gone through a ma­jor re­assess­ment and has ques­tioned its pro­ce­dures on safety. In 1987 the court was crit­i­cal of Townsend Thore­sen af­ter hear­ing that some cap­tains had sug­gested in­stalling in­di­ca­tor lights on the bridge, so a cap­tain could be cer­tain the bow doors had been closed. The re­ply from one com­pany di­rec­tor to the memo was: “Do they [cap­tains] re­ally need an in­di­ca­tor to tell them whether the deck store­keeper is awake and sober? My good­ness!” In Novem­ber 1987 a statu­tory in­stru­ment was brought be­fore Par­lia­ment, which came into force on Jan­uary 1, 1988. It re­quired that ac­cess door in­di­cat­ing sys­tems and television or CCTV sys­tems mon­i­tor­ing bow and stern doors, be fit­ted on the bridge. The work was car­ried out as a mat­ter of ur­gency and to­day, the sys­tems on the bridge for check­ing on bow and stern

Do cap­tains re­ally need an in­di­ca­tor to tell them whether the deck store­keeper is awake? My good­ness!

doors, are mon­i­tored by the Mar­itime and Coast­guard Agency. In the 1980s, fer­ries would of­ten put to sea with cap­tains as­sum­ing that the doors were closed, un­less an of­fi­cer told them oth­er­wise. To­day the key dif­fer­ence is that a cap­tain awaits a ver­bal pos­i­tive re­port from the load­ing of­fi­cer that all shell doors and hatches in the main deck are se­curely closed, be­fore leav­ing the berth. All the doors are mon­i­tored by CCTV sys­tems and an alarm sounds if there is any leak­age be­tween the bow vi­sor and the in­ner wa­ter­tight door. Prior to sail­ing and only af­ter com­plet­ing all pre-de­par­ture checks, a Mas­ter ad­vises pas­sen­gers that the ferry is se­cure and ready to sail. An­other piece of leg­is­la­tion, the Mer­chant Ship­ping (Emer­gency Equip­ment Lock­ers for Ro-ro pas­sen­ger ships) Reg­u­la­tions, came into force in April 1989. The act spec­i­fied the equip­ment that should be car­ried on fer­ries in the event of an emer­gency, as the court heard that emer­gency equip­ment on the Her­ald was of lit­tle use fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent. A locker is now on an open deck on each side of the ves­sel and emer­gency equip­ment in­cludes a glass break­ing ham­mer, a lad­der, a pulley and dif­fer­ent sized straps. The Her­ald’s emer­gency light­ing had failed as wa­ter poured in, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for sur­vivors to ori­en­tate them­selves. By July 1988, leg­is­la­tion had made it a re­quire­ment to in­stall sup­ple­men­tary emer­gency light­ing. Again, 1988 saw leg­is­la­tion take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to deal with how fer­ries were man­aged, fol­low­ing the court’s crit­i­cisms of the way the Her­ald was man­aged. The Mer­chant Ship­ping (Op­er­a­tions Book) Reg­u­la­tions 1988 re­quired the pro­vi­sion of a com­pre­hen­sive op­er­a­tions book and the des­ig­na­tion of a per­son on shore re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing and mak­ing ad­e­quate pro­vi­sion for op­er­at­ing the ferry, to com­ply with the book. Sub­se­quently man­age­ment pro­ce­dures were en­shrined in the In­ter­na­tional Safety Man­age­ment (ISM) Code, pro­duced by the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion. The code en­sures that suit­able man­age­ment struc­tures ex­ist and that de­ci­sion mak­ing af­fect­ing fer­ries can be traced, through reg­u­lar au­dits. An ISM cer­tifi­cate is only granted af­ter reg­u­lar au­dits, which need to show a com­pany is com­ply­ing. With­out an ISM cer­tifi­cate, a ferry would never leave the berth.

With thanks to the Bri­tish Cham­ber of Ship­ping, who pro­vided ad­vice on leg­is­la­tion.

SAFE SHIPS: Dover East­ern Docks, where fer­ries leave and ar­rive 24 hours a day. Since 1987, var­i­ous acts of Par­lia­ment have meant rigid safety pro­ce­dures must be ad­hered to

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