Lamma ferry crash

New marine safety measures set for next year

Ferries to get lookouts after dark, alarmed watertight doors and easy-to-find lifejackets

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 3:15am

Five new measures to improve marine safety after the Lamma Island tragedy will take effect next year.

The requirements will cover lookouts, crew numbers, lifejackets and watertight doors.

Director of Marine Francis Liu Hon-por told legislators yesterday that the five measures, which did not require any amendments to existing laws, would be set out in a code of practice to be released in September.

Three would be implemented within six months of that and the others within a year.

Under the new requirements, all vessels that can carry more than 100 passengers will need a lookout on the bridge in addition to the coxswain during hours of darkness and reduced visibility. High-speed boats will need a lookout on the bridge at all times.

This and a requirement to make sure there are enough crew numbers to allow for emergencies - including collisions, running aground and abandoning ship - will take effect around September next year, a year after the code of practice is published.

Under other measures, all passenger vessels that can carry more than 100 people should have a muster list spelling out the duties of each crew member in the event of an emergency.

There should also be improved signs and directives about location and use of lifejackets, and watertight doors should be fitted with alarms to alert the wheelhouse when they are open. These improvements are due to take effect about March next year.

About a dozen members of the Marine Joint Conference, an alliance of 21 groups from the maritime industry, staged a protest before the meeting of the Legislative Council panel on economic development where Liu spelled out the new rules.

"The industry is lacking manpower now. What will be the qualification, training and job duties of these lookouts?" asked organiser Kenny Wong Yiu-kan.

Transport-sector lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming said the industry "simply cannot recruit the manpower".

Liu countered: "Training for lookouts is very basic, in fact general seamen can handle the job."