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    ERRVA invites fishermen to join up

    News // January 26, 2001
    Over the past 14 years, vessels in the Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel Association (ERRVA) fleet in the North Sea has rescued 214 people, including 30 fishermen whose vessels have got into difficulty in the North Sea. Now the Association is offeringrescue of a different kind.

    The 117-vessel strong ERRVA fleet is employed by offshore oil and gas companies to keep a constant 24 hour a day, 365 days a year watch on their offshore installations and be on hand to effect any rescue necessary.

    "Naturally, when patrolling offshore installations our vessels have been near fishing grounds or the routes to and from them, and therefore, with the blessing of their charterers have been able to help in rescue operations when fishing vessels or the menaboard them have been in trouble," explains Jeremy Daniel, Chairman of ERRVA.

    "A typical rescue of this kind took place this time last year and resulted in six fishermen being rescued in the middle of a December night in gale force winds - gusting to 50 knots."

    Aware that the EU's sharply reduced North Sea fishing quotas will result in job losses, ERRVA now offers rescue of a different kind to fishermen who find themselves in a different sort of danger - this time economic.

    "North Sea fishermen are well aware of the important role our vessels play offshore, we would like to invite those who find themselves having to look for fresh employment to consider joining the ERRV fleet," suggests Jeremy Daniel.

    "Our 11 members will be delighted to talk to them about opportunities and career structure. The very first ERRVS, known then as standby vessels, developed from the fishing industry so there are strong links between the two industries - fishing tickets have been accepted for ERRVs and, even with STCW in 2002, conversion routes are straightforward, particularly if re-training grants are available, something we are looking into.

    In recent years over 200 million has been invested in upgrading the ERRVA fleet, and only last week the new 11million Havila Star made her first visit to Aberdeen. She, and her sister ship Havila Tigris, due to come into service in March 2001, are chartered by Shell UK Exploration and Production for the next five years to protect those working on the Brent, Tern, Eider and North Cormorant fields. Moreover BUE Marine has just announced four new-build ERRVs for delivery next year.

    "Fishermen are well used to working as a team, and that is just the attitude needed aboard our members' vessels - each vessel can accommodate 300 survivors and has sophisticated medical treatment rooms. The average ERRV has two crews of 12, in order to be able to launch and operate two Fast Rescue Craft (FRC) together. The crews operate a 28 day on, 28 day off roster.

    In some ways the roles of ERRVs are rather like those of Royal Navy ships - they are there to do something that everyone hopes will never be needed. So, like the crews of the RN ships and lifeboats, ERRV crews have to be specially trained and well practised in the particular skills they may need.

    Each member of the crew has a specific role, but when a rescue is made it really is a case of "all hands to the pumps" and the constant training programme that every crew member follows ensures that everyone is involved in helping to save lives, whetherthey are handling the ship and co-ordinating the rescue, part of the crew of a fast rescue craft or daughter craft, on deck helping survivors or at work in the medical treatment room or recovery area.

    Further information on employment aboard ERRVs is available on the ERRVA web site at http://www.errva.org.uk or from Jeremy Daniel at ERRVA, Chappetts Farm House, West Meon, Petersfield, Hampshire GU32 1NB. Tel: +44 (0) 1730 829695; Fax: +44 (0)1730 829850; Email: jdaniel@btinternet.com

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