Letter: Ferry disaster: ways to avert further tragedies

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The Independent Online
Sir: Speculation about the causes of the tragic loss of the Estonia highlights the urgent need for ships to be fitted with voyage-data recorders and control-space (bridge, engine-room, radio-room, etc) voice-recording equipment. Such equipment, already fitted in commercial aircraft, could give investigators definitive answers about what information was available to the control teams, and the decisions made as a result, during an emergency. It would also enable examination of the circumstances leading up to such an incident.

This equipment is available now, and I understand that many British ferries are already fitted with voice-recording.

It is possible to make such equipment 'float free', in a similar way to that used for life-rafts and emergency-position-indicating radio beacons, thus ensuring that even when such vessels are lost in atrocious weather, in remote areas, some record remains. All that is needed is legislation requiring that it be fitted.

As a serving merchant navy deck officer, I would welcome such equipment, as it would protect the competent from undeserved vilification and ensure that the incompetent and negligent were correctly identified.

In the end, however safe and survivable vessels are, the best protection is a well- trained and dedicated crew.

Yours faithfully,


Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

30 September