§ Mr. McNamara
asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to make regulations providing a new scheme of certificates of competency for engineer officers in the United Kingdom Merchant Navy; and what these regulations will provide.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis
The Merchant Shipping (Certification of Marine Engineer Officers) Regulations 1977, made 507W under Section 43 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1970, were laid before Parliament today and will come into operation on 1st September 1981. The transitional period of almost four years is due to the far-reaching nature of the new requirements and is necessary to give all organisations affected sufficient time to adapt to them.
Features of the new regulations are that they:
- (i) abolish the old "Home Trade" and "Foreign Going" categories of voyages in favour of new trading areas described as "Near Continental", "Middle Trade" and "Unlimited Operations", the definitions being such as to include operations to offshore oil exploration and production areas;
- (ii) provide for the first time that engineer officers on cargo ships trading in the near Continental waters will require to be certificated. They provide, however, for the issue of certificates of service which will enable an uncertificated engineer officer, who has given three years' satisfactory service in this trade, to continue in his post;
- (iii) require ships to carry sufficient certificated engineer officers to ensure that the engineering watch is always in the charge of an officer with a certificate of competency.
- (iv) require chief engineer officers and second engineer officers of ships carrying bulk cargoes of dangerous liquid chemicals and liquefied gases to have special training and experience in the handling of such cargoes;
- (v) require sail training ships of 80 gross tons and over with propulsion engines to carry at least one certificated engineer officer—or otherwise satisfy the Department that the engines are in the charge of competent persons.
The regulations, which embody important changes to bring the long standing provisions of earlier Merchant Shipping legislation into line with present day requirements, represent a completely new concept and are the result of a comprehensive review which the Department 508W has made over the past six years in close consultation with employers and unions in the shipping industry. The arrangements for the certification of deck officers have been similarly reviewed and separate regulations were laid before Parliament earlier this year.