Despite enormous challenges the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch made it to its silver anniversary on 7 August still doing a great job. It was set up in 1989 as a result of the public inquiry into the 1987 capsizing of the cross-channel ferry Herald of Free Enterprise in which 193 people died and has established a reputation for excellence and probity despite threats to its independence over the years.
Over the last 25 years the MAIB has raised reports on over 40,000 marine accidents and incidents, conducted 1500 investigations, published nearly 500 investigations reports, and made upwards of 3000 safety recommendations.
With a modest budget of £3.6m for the past year, which covered 33 new investigations, two Safety Digests and three Safety Bulletins, the British taxpayer gets a lot of bangs for its buck. Still, budget restrictions continue to present challenges to save money and plans are already well advanced to move the organisation from a privately owned building, Mountbatten House, into government owned premises located in Southampton. Says Chief Inspector Steve Clinch “The current office is now too large for our needs and the move will be an opportunity to create an office layout more suited to the way we work as well as saving the Exchequer a significant amount of public money that would otherwise be paid to a private landlord.”
Current;y MAIB’s 16 inspectors are conducting 35 investigations into a diverse range of accidents, ranging from the loss of commercial fishing vessels, to collisions and fires on the River Thames, and the grounding of a ro-ro ferry.
MAIB reports are well represented on Maritime Accident Casebook, MAC, a database that continues to increase.
There remain challenges ahead for MAIB and Maritime Accident Casebook would like to wish Steve Clinch and his great team a happy anniversary.