Seacroft Marine present on offshore collision avoidance at Nautical Institute

The North of Scotland Branch of the Nautical Institute took the challenge of preventing collision between offshore installations and their attending vessels as the subject of its recent monthly meeting

Michael Cowlam, technical director of Seacroft Marine Consultants Limited, presented to around 50 members on the regulatory imperative – and on a number of responses brought forward by companies and industry bodies in response.

“The Health and Safety Executive have – after a number of incidents in recent years – challenged operators of offshore installations to demonstrate that they have adequate systems in place to manage vessel traffic in the 500m safety zone such that preventable collisions do not happen,” says Michael. “The creation of the role for a Marine Responsible Person (MRP) is one part of the industry response but without the necessary underpinning procedures, training and assurance systems, the existence of the role is not, in itself, a solution.”

Mr Cowlam described a catastrophic incident of attendant vessel collision which took place overseas – resulting in multiple fatalities and the total destruction of both the installation and the vessel – and a number of, thankfully, less severe occurrences from the UKCS.

He discussed the creation of the role of the MRP, the Step Change in Safety ‘Joined Up Thinking’ video, the Marine Safety Forum’s Marine Awareness training and Seacroft’s own bespoke SafeZone 500 programme of procedures, training and audit processes for managing marine traffic and associated allision risk in the 500m zone.

A lively Q&A session ensued, which Michael welcomed

“Some of the most experienced minds in the marine industry were in that room – where better to debate solutions to what we all recognise is a real hazard of operating larger and larger vessels in close proximity to static installations”, Mr Cowlam says

Roger Armstrong, chairman of the branch, thanked Michael for the presentation which stimulated debate amongst the members and association representatives: “We were glad the presentation raised the question of how the Industry can bring marine responsibility to the Installation. A Marine Responsible Person offers the OIM so much more than allowing entry into the safety zone.

“With aging structures and larger tonnage, it is essential to protect the installation from collision, but also to consider the value of the advice to the OIM regarding preparation for adverse and extreme weather, emergency support and environmental awareness. They would offer direct liaison with the ERRV and bring a holistic approach to protecting the asset during marine operations.

“The reintroduction of a competent marine presence will have to be developed over an extended period, but Duty Holders should be aware of the requirement and the interest from the Regulator,” Roger Armstrong conluded.