Safety changes mean the industry is now ‘unrecognisable’ from 1987
ATTITUDES to ferry safety have undergone sweeping changes in the 20 years since the Herald tragedy. The industry is now unrecognisable from that which allowed the Herald to put to sea with her bow doors open. That is the view of the British Chamber of Shipping, which represents ship owners and companies. In the UK, the regulatory authority is the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which ensures that all UK flagged vessels meet both UK and international regulations. The European Union also placed responsibilities on port states to ensure that before ferries enter service on a specific route, the two states have inspected the vessel and confirmed it meets all the necessary regulations. Several additional regulations were also introduced to enhance safety on Ro-ro ferries, either as a direct result of the Herald, or as a result of an overall review of safety. These include examining stability standards for existing Ro-ro ferries and providing additional information about a ship’s stability requirements. Positive reporting and logging of the closure of loading doors before a ship leaves berth now take place, rather than a Master assuming this has been taken care of.
And in 1989 a loading and stability assessment of all Ro-ro ferries was carried out. International measures further increased the stability of ferries and provided improved lifesaving equipment and the provision of fast rescue boats. A spokesman for the British Chamber of Shipping, said: “Since the tragedy, the attitudes of the industry have undergone a major reassessment with previously accepted standards and philosophy being questioned. “The changes have made significant improvements to the fundamental safety both in terms of hardware and the management of risk of these invaluable vessels.”