Creating a safer future for the maritime industry

Coltraco Ultrasonics’ CEO Carl Hunter believes the UK government’s Maritime 2050 strategy provides a good starting point for preventing catastrophic events at sea

Creating a safer future for the maritime industry
Coltraco Ultrasonics’ CEO Carl Hunter says the maritime industry needs to do more on safety

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Why are cruise and ferry ships still lost at sea? Why is sinking the main cause? Why is fire the second most common cause? And why are hundreds of seafarers and maritime professionals still dying in peace time? Why are the worst operators in our global industry still refusing to pay fair wages? These are the key issues that I believe the maritime industry could readily resolve today with greater support from leadership.

For example, confined space entry regulations state that every passenger ship must have onboard oxygen monitors, as well as flammable and toxic gas monitors. So why are mariners losing their lives every year at sea when they enter a confined space? If the right kit is onboard, and the procedures for its use are clear, then a failure in leadership must be to blame – whether from masters and chief engineers onboard, or from their head office ashore.

Regulations also require each ship to inspect its own gaseous fixed fire suppression system for carbon dioxide (CO2) leakage in order to protect against fire at sea. The regulations are clear that every vessel must have the means for the crew to check the contents of their CO2 systems. However, while the master and chief engineer are usually trained of these systems’ locations and what their effect on fire is, few understand the science and so we still have mariners dying at sea. What’s more, our worst shipowners do not want their CO2 systems maintained. They want them certified for insurance purposes only.

What’s also become evident to me is that some of our worst operators think that the cheapest crew is best. We all know of examples of operators who don’t pay the crew fairly, reflecting little on the value of the human lives working at sea.

By joining forces with the government, the maritime industry can step up and take action to preserve safety of life at sea. The UK Government’s 30-year maritime strategy Maritime 2050 is an excellent starting point, serving as a springboard for change. This is an act of leadership by our government. And all of us can play our part to inform, advise and command.

As a start, why not read Maritime 2050 and respond to the call of our government to play your part in a spirit of public service to help implement it? The safety of many human lives depends on it. Now’s your chance to show what true leadership really is.

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Lindsay James
By Lindsay James
09 October 2019

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