HC Deb 24 June 1991 vol 193 cc393-4W
Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the recommendations of the marine accident investigation branch inquiry into the Marchioness disaster, indicating which have been accepted and implemented, which have been accepted and not yet implemented and the date by which he intends that they should be implemented; and which have not been accepted and the reasons for such rejection.

Mr. McLoughlin

All 27 recommendations listed in the marine accident investigation branch report into the collision between the Marchioness and the Bowbelle were accepted on 24 July 1990 by the then Secretary of State. A copy of the recommendations was placed in the Library at that time. Action on 14 of the recommendations (Nos. 1–3, 6–11, 14, 16, 18, 23 and 25) has been completed. Action to implement the remaining recommendations is well advanced and will be completed as quickly as is practicable. Two of these recommendations (Nos. 26 and 27) require the Department to establish and maintain monitoring processes to ensure that the substance of the report's recommendations continues to be borne in mind in future developments; and this has been set in place.

Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action has been taken to review and, where necessary, to improve the procedures of the communications and emergency services as a result of lessons learnt about the Marchioness disaster.

Mr. McLoughlin

The procedures for communications between ships, the Port of London Authority (PLA) and the emergency services are contained in PLA's combined accident procedure (POLACAP) instructions. Two full-scale POLACAP emergency exercises have been held recently and the lessons learnt have been incorporated in the POLACAP instructions.

The PLA general directions for navigation have been amended to require:

  1. 1. Ships to be equipped with a VHF radiotelephone capable of communicating with the harbourmaster.
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  3. 2. Ships to maintain a continuous watch on the VHF channel appropriate to the part of the Thames in which they are operating.
  4. 3. Ships to be fitted with vertical emergency aerials if main aerials are lowered when passing under bridges.
  5. 4. Ships of more than 40 metres length to be provided with telephone or portable handset communications between the navigating bridge and the lookout forward.