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Health and safety

Nautilus urges MCA to urgently investigate P&O over safety following wholesale crew terminations

17 March 2022


Nautilus has now recieved a response from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency:

After the disgraceful action by P&O Ferries, which has made all workers on UK routes redundant with immediate effect, Nautilus International is asking the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) how it will ensure safety at sea if experienced maritime professionals are replaced with agency crew who have no familiarity with the route or vessels, as intended by the company.

P&O routes include the short sea Dover-Calais route, which is the busiest shipping lane in the world.

In a letter to the MCA, Nautilus head of professional and technical David Appleton said: 'We are writing to ask what plans the MCA has to ensure the safety of the vessels before the company is allowed to resume operations. Specifically, how it will be ensured that the company is in compliance with the requirements of STCW, ISM and other instruments relating to familiarisation, handover, ship specific and equipment specific training.' 

Specifically, Nautilus is questioning whether P&O can meet STCW Section A-1/14 which states that:

1. Companies*, masters and crew members each have responsibility for ensuring that the obligations set out in this section are given full and complete effect and that such other measures as may be necessary are taken to ensure that each crew member can make a knowledgeable and informed contribution to the safe operation of the ship.

2. The company shall provide written instructions to the master of each ship to which the Convention applies, setting forth the policies and the procedures to be followed to ensure that all seafarers who are newly employed on board the ship are given a reasonable opportunity to become familiar with the shipboard equipment, operating procedures and other arrangements needed for the proper performance of their duties, before being assigned to those duties. Such policies and procedures shall include:

.1 allocation of a reasonable period of time during which each newly employed seafarer will have an opportunity to become acquainted with:

.1.1 the specific equipment the seafarer will be using or operating, and

.1.2 ship specific watchkeeping, safety, environmental protection and emergency procedures and arrangements the seafarer needs to know to perform the assigned duties properly; and

.2 designation of a knowledgeable crew member who will be responsible for ensuring that an opportunity is provided to each newly employed seafarer to receive essential information in a language the seafarer understands.

Furthermore, the ISM code requires that all seafarers are familiar with the company’s SMS and environmental procedures and that personnel have received appropriate training and familiarisation in the tasks for which they have responsibility.

'We have serious doubts as to how a company that has replaced its entire crew with no handover would be able to demonstrate compliance with the above-mentioned requirements and others so would ask the MCA to urgently investigate this matter to ensure that the vessels cannot sail until such time as compliance with all relevant regulations has been assessed and confirmed,' Mr Appleton said.