Inspection regimes on passenger ships calling at Irish ports have been tightened following the Costa Concordia accident and will be strengthened again from next year, the Irish Marine Survey Office of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (MSO) has confirmed.
Brian Hogan, who heads up the (MSO) and is Chairman of a major international shipping safety organisation, the PMoU*, confirmed that all passenger ships calling at ports in Ireland and in the 26 other countries which are members of the Paris MoU will face enhanced safety checks on their crews and procedures from next year.
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar welcomed the move and announced a stronger focus on marine safety: ‘Over the next year, I will be leading a drive within my Department to give greater priority to marine safety. This will mean more inspections by marine safety officers, improved training for Coast Guard volunteers and better preparedness for oil pollution incidents’.
Brian Hogan explained that: ‘The cruise ship industry has been earmarked for significant growth in Ireland. Dublin and Cork Ports are just some of the ports which have targeted the cruise industry for further development’.
“The Costa Concordia accident highlighted the terrible consequences which can arise when things go wrong. It’s therefore vital to ensure that the highest safety procedures are in operation on cruise ships calling to Ireland.
“The safety inspections currently carried out on passenger ships calling to Ireland are already among the toughest in the shipping world. And from 2013, staff from the MSO will run additional detailed checks on whether crews are trained and familiar with their ships. This will include checks on safety and abandon ship drills, as well as fire fighting.”
Ships which commit the most serious safety violations ships will be detained in port by the MSO until the problem is remedied.
Ireland was one of a number of countries which moved immediately to impose tighter safety checks following the Costa Concordia tragedy. And following the recent meeting of the PMoU, further enhanced inspections of passenger ships will be launched in 2013.
Separately, the international cruise shipping industry has introduced several measures such as the provision of additional lifejackets. These measures have been implemented voluntarily by cruise ships visiting Ireland. The European Commission is also conducting a review of passenger ship safety, which is likely to be published during the Irish Presidency of the EU.
The results from ongoing inspection campaigns in Ireland and other participating countries will be analysed and passed on to the European Commission and to the International Maritime Organisation, a United Nations body which regulates shipping globally. They will form part of an overall review of passenger ship safety following the Costa Concordia accident.
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport: 01 604 1087 / 01 604 1090
* The Paris Memorandum of Understanding comprises 27 countries and covers the European coastal States and the North Atlantic as far as North America. Its aims to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships through a harmonized system of port State control.
The PMoU inspects foreign flagged ships which call to ports of the member states. The inspections are to check for compliance with safety, security, pollution prevention and living and working conditions on board the ships.