This month’s edition amply displays how two of the maritime market’s driving forces — technology and legislation — simultaneously clash, meld and otherwise work together and apart to dictate the look, design and outfitting of ships and boats of tomorrow. The marine market, which has often and unfairly been labeled conservative, is embracing many sweeping changes, which are designed to enhance safety and operational efficiency. As usual, the impetus for change has been an unsightly and costly — both in terms of sullied beaches, animals as well as tarnished reputations — casualty. In this instance, the name Erika is being thrown about with the same invective as Valdez was more than a decade ago; a name that is sure to become synonymous with the drive for safer ships.
Last month the Alliance of Maritime Regional Interest in Europe (AMRIE) presented a series of recommendations aimed at improving levels of oil tanker safety in response to recent Commission proposals on the safety of the seaborne oil trade. The AMRIE paper specifically calls for maritime “black boxes” to be fitted to all existing cargo ships, thus exceeding the IMO suggestion of outfitting new ships only.
While it is relatively impossible to find a shipowner/operator who would publicly denounce a sweeping safety measure in the aftermath of a highly publicized, politically and emotionally charged disaster, it is fair to say that this-bottom line conscious group will be none too pleased with the latest development, considering the anticipated price range per ship will be between $75,000 and $150,000.
Regardless of the outcome of AMRIE’s suggestion, it is clear that the safety bar — rightfully so — has been raised another notch.