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Shipping: Rescue Services

Transport written question – answered on 29th November 2011.

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Photo of Adrian Sanders Adrian Sanders Liberal Democrat, Torbay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the evidential basis is for her policy that the coastguard agreement on salvage and towage is a suitable alternative to the provision of emergency towing vessels; and what steps she plans to take to ensure that the safety standards provided by the emergency towing vessels are maintained.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

The Government have taken the view that it is the responsibility of shipowners and operators to protect their interests by engaging commercial tugs and salvors when their ships get into difficulty.

The relevant coastguard co-ordination centres are actively monitoring shipping using the automatic identification system (AIS), and will be proactive in contacting ships that are observed to be stopped at sea or behaving erratically.

The coastguard agreement on salvage and towage (CAST) was not developed to be a like-for-like alternative to the provision of emergency towing vessels (ETVs). The CAST provides tug assistance of last resort, with the cost potentially being borne by Government. It facilitates the prompt hire of tugs on pre-agreed terms, where towage assistance is not immediately available or forthcoming. This also provides the Secretary of State’s Representative (SOSREP) with a means to exercise his powers of direction and intervention on maritime salvage and pollution prevention.

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