UK-based maritime union RMT has written to safety regulators and the cruise ship industry body demanding urgent action over lifeboat safety after a routine training exercise on P&O’s Bermuda-registered ‘Arcadia’ in the Azores almost ended in tragedy.
Five people were hurt in the incident, one seriously, in what RMT said was the latest in a catalogue of serious incidents involving lifeboats – an issue that the union has been campaigning for change and improvements on for a number of years.
In a letter to the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), RMT demanded a tighter regulatory regime and improved maintenance to ensure both crew and passenger safety.
The RMT said: ‘RMT has serious concerns over the risks and dangers facing maritime workers involved in lifeboat drills. It is almost as if the safety and testing regime for lifeboats under the present system has become the most dangerous part of a maritime workers time at sea, and that just cannot be right. RMT is demanding a tighter regulatory regime and improved maintenance of all lifeboats to ensure improvements to both crew and passenger safety.
‘Can you tell me, clearly and with precision what the MCA are (is) doing to ensure immediate improvements in the working process of lifeboat drills, what the MCA consider requires changing, when they believe those changes will be introduced and finally what narrative they have in ensuring the safest and best practices are deployed and acted upon accordingly, for lifeboat drills.’
The union has written to both Carnival Cruises and the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) raising similar points.