HC Deb 17 October 1994 vol 248 c47W
Mr. Foulkes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps(a) he has taken and (b) he proposes to take to ensure that naval vessels from other countries in United Kingdom waters are aware of the operational and safety arrangements in relation to United Kingdom fishing boats, including rules regarding minimum separation, notification and broadcast warnings and information.

Mr. Soames

Foreign naval vessels operating in United Kingdom waters are required to observe the international regulations for the prevention of collision at sea. These regulations apply to all surface vessels, both military and non-military, including fishing vessels.

The conduct of dived foreign submarines in United Kingdom waters is governed by the code of practice, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. The code, among other provisions, stipulates minimum separation distances. Briefing on the provisions of the code is signalled to foreign submarines before they enter United Kingdom waters. Submarines programmed to participate in a major exercise are given further oral or written briefing before the exercise commences.

In addition to operational safety measures, fishermen also receive advance notification of dived movements, including those of foreign submarines, in all regularly used submarine exercise areas around the United Kingdom coast. Notification is by means of the SUBFACTS broadcast scheme and, before major exercises, via a notice to fishermen.