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Passenger Ships: Cultural Heritage

Question for Department for Transport

UIN HL16521, tabled on 19 June 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the basis for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s proposed changes to the safety rules for historic passenger vessels; and what assessment they have made of whether all the proposed changes are necessary to ensure an acceptable level of maritime safety.

Answered on

26 June 2019

The technical standards applicable to the current domestic passenger fleet vary depending on the age of the vessel with new build ships being subject to updated standards. These newer standards are considered to provide a higher safety standard than that required for older ships. Concurrent with these developments, the standards for existing vessels have remained mostly unchanged.

The aim of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA’s) proposed changes to standards for older passenger ships is to bring their level of safety as far as possible up to that required for new build ships in order to lessen the safety gap in key areas and thus achieve an acceptable level of safety for the travelling public in the 21st century.

The proposed changes have been formed out of a review of standards. This review took place against a background of Lord Justice Clarke’s Thames Safety Inquiry into the accident involving the passenger ship MARCHIONESS and the dredger BOWBELLE on the tidal Thames, a Formal Safety Assessment carried out for the UK government into domestic passenger ship safety, and the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) recommendations.

The proposed changes were the subject of a public consultation which ran from 6 November 2018 to 29 January 2019. Following feedback received in the consultation the MCA have reviewed the proposed changes and in some areas the changes have been modified to maintain proportionality whilst still achieving an acceptable level of safety for the travelling public. These modified proposals are the subject of a second public consultation which was launched on 29 May 2019 and runs until the 10 July.