MCA releases the outcome of the review of the standards relating to older domestic passenger vessels

MCA release results of second public consultation
MCA release results of second public consultation

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) carried out a second public consultation, which ran from 29 May 2019 to 10 July 2019, on proposals resulting from a review of the standards relating to older domestic passenger vessels, which are currently less stringent in some areas than those which are applied to newbuild vessels. Some proposals had been revised in the light of comments received during the first consultation, which ran from 6 November 2018 to 29 January 2019.

In some cases, there is a safety gap between the standards for new ships and those for older vessels. The review seeks to bring the standards applied to existing vessels into line, wherever possible, with those which apply to new vessels in key safetyareas.

These proposals are to narrow the gap by means of new Regulations which amend the Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Small Ships) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1011), the Merchant Shipping (Passenger Ship Construction: Ships of Classes III to VI(A)) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2515), and the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances for Passenger Ships of Classes III to VI(A)) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/2723). They focus on several facets of ship safety for improvement.

The second consultation set out to test the revised proposals for effectiveness, practicality, reasonableness and cost effectiveness, inviting consultees to give their views. In the main response document supplied with the consultation, a brief description of each of the 10 proposals was provided, each with a question asking whether the respondent agreed with the proposal. A Yes/No tick box was provided for the respondent to indicate if they agreed with the particular proposal, followed by a free text area in which the respondent could provide a fuller description of their views.

The following supporting documents were provided with the consultation to show the actual amending text which was proposed to bring about the changes:
a) a draft Statutory Instrument (i.e. the proposed Merchant Shipping (Passenger Ships on Domestic Voyages) (Amendment) Regulations 2019);
b) a draft Amendment 3 to Merchant Shipping Notice (MSN) 1699(M) which forms part of the Merchant Shipping (Passenger Ship Construction: Ships of Classes III to VI(A)) Regulations 1998. This came in two parts, a covering MSN and a revised technical Annex;
c) a draft Amendment 1 to MSN 1670(M) which forms part of the Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Small Ships) Regulations 1998 and the Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Large Ships) Regulations 1998
d) a draft new Marine Guidance Note (MGN), which provides guidance on the changes brought about by the review and available exemptions against them.

The Impact Assessment which was published as part of the first consultation was updated following that consultation. Although not published with the second consultation, the MCA have kept it under review and made any appropriate adjustments to it as a result of costings and other comments provided during the second consultation, ahead of a final review by the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC).

This second consultation was carried out between 29 May 2019 and 10 July 2019.

While the consultation was promulgated on GOV.UK for any member of the public who wished to read it and/or respond to it, and triggered notifications for anyone who is subscribed to received such government notifications, additionally, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) individually notified over 450 consultee addresses. These comprised a mixture of Domestic Passenger Vessel representative organisations, individual operators, government Departments and other interested parties, included those contacted through Working Groups. All persons and organisations who had specifically requested notification were included. The MCA also made the consultation known through its Domestic Passenger Ship Safety groups, comprising government, industry and other interested parties, namely the Domestic Passenger Ship Safety Group (DPSSG) and the Domestic Passenger Ship Safety Ro-Ro Group (DPSSG Ro-Ro), and also representative bodies including the Passenger Boat Association (PBA), the Passenger Vessel Operators’ Association (PVOA), National Historic Ships and the UK Chamber of Shipping.

A total of 52 responses were received from across the UK. Consultees were invited to indicate the type of respondent they were on their consultation response. Where they did not do this, MCA scrutinising officials allocated to them the description which appeared to be best fit from the information provided. Some respondents identified themselves in more than one category. Of the 52 respondents, 31 of these described themselves as Vessel Owners or Vessel Operators, or both. Eight were Domestic Passenger Vessel representative organisations, although some of these also identified themselves in also belonging to other categories, e.g. Vessel Owner or Operator. Four were government bodies of some sort, although not part of central government. Five described themselves as individuals, two of these being government employees responding as individuals.

This is the second of two public consultations on this subject. The government will consider the comments received during this second consultation in addition to those already considered from the first consultation.

It is planned to bring the new Regulations into force during January 2020, although vessel owners and operators will have at least two years to implement any necessary changes.

Download the report in full: Consultation_Outcome_Report_GFR

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