Nautilus International is calling for radical new thinking to stop the rising death toll among merchant seafarers involved in lifeboat drills.
The Union has voiced concern after a fresh accident — in which one crew member died and four others were injured, two seriously, during an exercise onboard the Bahamas-flagged cruiseship Harmony of the Seas in the French port of Marseilles.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson commented: ‘We are deeply shocked to see yet another lifeboat accident leading to loss of life and injuries, and express our sympathies to all affected by the incident.
‘The dangers associated with lifeboat drills are well known, and there is now extensive evidence to show the scale of fatalities arising from accidents. In the light of this, Nautilus has consistently advised members not to be in lifeboats when they are being raised or lowered, unless strops are in place.
‘This is an issue that we have raised directly with companies and at the International Maritime Organisation, and we believe there is a need for much more concerted action to address issues and design shortcomings. It is not only an issue of maintenance and training — it is a question of procedures,’ he added.
‘It is appalling that the industry seems incapable to solving this problem,’ Mr Dickinson said. ‘It is high time that we had some radical thinking about the whole concept of lifeboats and to examine the potential of alternative evacuation systems.’