Nautilus welcomes new funding for emergency vesselVessel & ROV News // July 14, 2016
Maritime trade union Nautilus International has welcomed a UK government decision to reprieve the last remaining emergency towing vessel (ETV), based in Orkney.
The union described the decision to provide a further five years’ funding for the vessel as "a long-overdue victory for common sense" and urged the government to reconsider the provision of other ETVs around the UK coast.
The four ETVs stationed around the UK were introduced after the Braer and Sea Empress tanker disasters, but three were withdrawn following the 2010 public spending review. The contract for the final vessel, covering northern Scotland, was due to expire at the end of March this year but was extended by the government in the face of warnings about the threat to safety.
Shipping minister Robert Goodwill said the government had determined that there is a strong case to support the ‘vital service’ provided by the ETV.
A Maritime & Coastguard Agency review had concluded that the commercial towage market cannot currently reliably meet the need for a dedicated service to cover the seas around Scotland.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson commented: "This is a victory for common sense and a victory for safety at sea. It is wrong that short-term cost-cutting was given priority over the need to safeguard lives at sea and protect our coastlines from pollution. The logic used to ensure the future provision of the Orkney ETV ought to be extended to the reinstatement of the other vessels in other high-risk areas around the UK," he added. "There is no room for complacency over maritime safety and we should not ignore the ever-present risk of collisions, groundings, fires and other accidents in our waters."