European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas has not ruled out taking unilateral action to improve vessel safety following the worst cruise ship disaster for a generation and the continuation of Somali pirate attacks against merchant shipping.
A review of existing passenger ship safety legislation originally put in place after the Estonia disaster, will now include elements such as ship stability after an accident, evacuation procedures as well as language spoken onboard - factors that rose to prominence following the capsizing of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy in mid-January.
The European Commission Vice President also intends to convene a stakeholder conference in April 2012 to discuss the best way forward and will use the findings of the official investigation into the capsizing as important information in deciding the way ahead.
In the area of piracy, Brussels is considering moves to make mandatory the use of Best Management Practices (BMP4) for European ships travelling in pirate waters. Fotis Karamitsos, Director for Logistics, Maritime and Land Transport in the EU Commission (DG MOVE), told SMI: "Consideration will also be given to developing better ship design and looking at ways to better deter piracy."
He said the use of armed guards would also be discussed and said a conference would be convened in the Spring where the military would be consulted to discuss and address the growing concern of piracy.
The purpose of the Industry Best Management Practices (BMP) is to assist ships to avoid, deter or delay piracy attacks in the high risk area. Experience and data collected by Naval/Military forces.The potential consequences of not following BMP are severe. There have been instances of pirates subjecting their hostages to violence and other ill treatment. The average length of a hijacking of vessel and her crew is over seven months.
Mr Karamitsos said: "Piracy issues are high on the agenda and exchanges of information with EU NAVFOR has helped to convince ship owners and ships' masters to take advantage of the measures in place to safeguard their transit through the Gulf of Aden.
"The European Maritime Safety Agency supports the operation with EU NAVFOR with the provision of long range tracking data for ships. We would like to invite all ship operators to apply the best management practices to prevent piracy and we are reflecting on the need to make this mandatory for ships sailing in these pirate zones," he confirmed.
Source: Ship Management International