Ferry life­jack­ets same as those in Louisa tragedy

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - NEWS -

Marine Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Board’s re­port into the tragedy pub­lished this week re­vealed the Cos­alt Pre­mier life­jack­ets the three men were wear­ing, should have self-righted, turn­ing them onto their backs and leav­ing the men’s air­ways clear.

The re­port called on the Mar­itime and Coast­guard Agency (MCA) to con­duct fur­ther re­search into the test­ing of the buoy­ancy aids as “a mat­ter of ur­gency”.

Cal­Mac, which has 33 fer­ries on its West Coast routes, con­firmed it uses the same life­jack­ets.

Each ferry has one for every pas­sen­ger and crew and a com­pany spokesman stressed “safety is our main pri­or­ity”. He said: “We note the find­ings of the board’s re­port into the Louisa ac­ci­dent and, in par­tic­u­lar, the con­cerns about the life­jack­ets used.

“Safety is our main pri­or­ity and we will be re­view­ing, as we al­ways do, th­ese find­ings to see if there are any im­pli­ca­tions for our safety pro­ce­dures.

“We will also ask the MCA for their guid­ance on the is­sues around life- jack­ets and if they ad­vise or in­struct a change we will, of course, fully com­ply.”

High­land Coun­cil op­er­ates the Cor­ran Ferry in Lochaber. A spokes­woman con­firmed yes­ter­day that it had al­most 170 Cos­alt Pre­mier life­jack­ets on board.

Trawler­man Jimmy Buchan, of Peter­head, said: “We must learn from a tragedy like this and there has to be fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions. There is no point in car­ry­ing the equip­ment if it is not go­ing to do the job.”

Steve Clinch, chief in­spec­tor of Marine Ac­ci­dents, had said: “A life­jacket should turn an un­con­scious per­son on to their back and keep their air­way clear of the wa­ter.

“It is there­fore of con­cern that the skip­per and two crew were trag­i­cally found un­re­spon­sive and face down in their life­jack­ets when the res­cue ser­vices ar­rived.”

A Marine Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Board spokesman said yes­ter­day: “This is the first time a con­cern has been raised over the per­for­mance of life­jack- ets. The con­cern needs to be sub­stan­ti­ated which is why we are rec­om­mend­ing the MCA con­duct ur­gent re­search.” An el­derly woman has been taken to hos­pi­tal af­ter a fire in Lochaber.

The 88-year-old re­ceived treat­ment at the Belford Hos­pi­tal in Fort Wil­liam af­ter the in­ci­dent at a house in Lochy Road, In­ver­lochy.

A fire ser­vice spokes­woman said: “We re­ceived the call at 10.56pm on Thurs­day.

“Two ap­pli­ances at­tended from Fort Wil­liam, but the fire had been ex­tin­guished when they ar­rived and the ca­su­alty was in the

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