§ Ms. Ruddock
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the marine accident investigation branch has investigated the role of the radio officer in maintaining vital radio communications with the emergency services during the fire which left the roll-on roll-off passenger ferry St. Columbia adrift without power in the Irish sea on Wednesday 31 January; and what conclusions have been drawn from the investigation.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
The purpose of an investigation carried out by the marine accident investigation branch is to determine the circumstances and causes of an accident. To this end, the inspector who carried out the investigation into the fire on board the St. Columbia on 31 January interviewed several of the ship's officers—including the radio officer. The inspector found that the fire occurred when fuel oil escaped from a pipe and sprayed onto a hot exhaust manifold, causing the oil to ignite. A report will be published to apprise the shipping industry of the lessons to be learnt.