From 17 June this year all member states of the European Union must implement Directive 2009/18/EC to have independent safety investigation bodies, to investigate very serious casualties and to publish reports within 12 months. They must also notify marine casualties and incidents to the European Maritime Casualty Information Platform, EMCIP, a non-publicly available database to store and analyse accident-related data about marine casualties and incidents.
EMCIP has been running on a voluntary basis for a couple of years, and becomes mandatory on 17 June. Ahead of the deadline, on 4-6 and 25-27 May, the European Maritime Safety Agency, EMSA, hosted 23 delegates from Member States in Lisbon to demonstrate the new database functions enabling them to compare the new and old versions, and test-run new features.
The EU Directive has raised concernes among some leading maritime accident investigators. Some investigations have taken more than the year mandated by the directive. To put that into context, in 2009 the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch handled 1663 marine accidents and incidents covered by a small team of 39 people on a tiny budget of £4m. This year, like all UK government departs, deep cuts in the budget were demanded. The new regime may well lead investigative agencies in a conflict of meeting the demands of the directive within current budgetary constraints.