Ship safety: draft Merchant Shipping Regulations 2023

The draft Merchant Shipping (Inspection of Ro-Ro Passenger Ships and High-Speed Passenger Craft) Regulations 2023 were published today (Monday 5 December 2022), along with an accompanying draft explanatory memorandum.

The draft regulations revoke and replace the Merchant Shipping (Mandatory Surveys for Ro-Ro Ferry and High Speed Passenger Craft) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/152) and implement a revised safety inspection regime for ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft.

The draft regulations are being published for 28 days. Following the conclusion of this period, and once any observations on the draft regulations have been taken into account, they will be laid for approval by each House of Parliament. This procedure is required under paragraph 14 of schedule 8 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 because these regulations revoke an instrument, the 2001 regulations, that was made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

Statutory statements explaining the steps taken to publish the draft regulations and the reasons for the revocation of the provision made by section 2(2) are contained in the annex to the draft explanatory memorandum.

The main objective of the draft regulations is to remove duplication amongst the current inspection regimes applicable to ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft in regular service. Vessels operating on international voyages within the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) region (the port state control regime we work within) are already subject to priority-based inspections. These will continue to occur at a frequency determined by the level of risk for each vessel.

The draft regulations retain a distinct safety inspection regime for ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger crafts. They provide a level of certainty and expectation to the industry as to when and where their inspections will take place and exactly what will be required.

UK-registered ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger crafts visiting EU countries will be subject to inspection by those countries under the European legislation. The draft regulations will provide an inspection regime for ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft consistent with that of the EU so that the same standards have to be met by all such vessels operating out of the UK, regardless of route they take.

The draft regulations also include an ambulatory reference provision to ensure that the international conventions referred to in the draft regulations will always be understood to be the most up-to-date versions of such conventions applicable at the time of consideration.

As described in the explanatory memorandum, when one of these conventions is to be amended internationally, a ministerial statement will be provided to both Houses of Parliament ahead of the amendment taking effect and coming into force in UK law.

You can read the draft regulations and the accompanying draft explanatory memorandum.

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