Los ingleses no dejan títere con cabeza, ahora le toca al MAIB, hace unos días anunciaban otro recorte en la Navy y los chorizos a su vez pegaban otro recorte a las comunicaciones de un centro de Salvamento.

UK confirms one quarter of MAIB inspectors to go

Job losses form part of DfT’s 20% per year spending cuts

David Osler – 3 November 2011 Lloyds List

NEARLY a quarter of inspectors at the Marine Accident Investigation Branch face the chop as part of the government’s plans for major public sector cuts, shipping minister Mike Penning has confirmed.

Ironically, the news comes less than a day after Mr Penning told Lloyd’s List that MAIB, which he praised as “a world leader in their field”, is being asked to expand its responsibilities to include investigating the deaths of British nationals on foreign flag cruiseships.

In response to a written parliamentary question from Labour transport spokeswoman Maria Eagle, Mr Penning said: “Under plans to reduce its costs in line with the outcome of the October 2010 spending review, the number of MAIB investigators will be reduced from 21 to 16.”

The belt-tightening move has left the British shipping industry asking whether the organisation will still be able to maintain both the volume and quality of the investigations it undertakes into major casualties.
A spokesman for the Chamber of Shipping said: “Any reduction to the number of investigators is a cause for concern, and it remains to be seen whether the MAIB will be able to continue to provide a first class service as a result of these cuts.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Details of MAIB’s budget reductions appeared in its current Business Plan, which was published on March 24, 2011.

“In response, the MAIB has reduced its non-core work and introduced new procedures that have streamlined some investigation activities. However, the MAIB retains the ability to fully resource investigations into accidents where there are significant safety lessons to be learned.”

Britain’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition administration is seeking to bring down the country’s deficit by around £80bn ($128bn) from its 2010 level by 2015. According to its current business plan, MAIB is planning to reduce outgoings by 18% by the same deadline. A three-year plan is set out, under which its budget will fall from £4.2m in 2010-2011 to £3.7m in 2013-2014.

That document states that the investigation expenses budget will drop by an annual £80,000. However, it goes on to argue that “operational activities should not be affected”, and that contingency funding from the DfT will be available if a major accident requiring substantial outlay does occur.

In addition, publication of MAIB Safety Digests will be reduced from three times a year to two. Staff reductions will be achieved through a combination of natural wastage and voluntary redundancies.

Although the headcount reduction target is not set in stone, the hope is to bring the payroll down from an unspecified level to 33 in just under four years’ time.

The role of maritime accident investigation has been highlighted in the mainstream media of late after the case of 24-year-old Rebecca Coriam, a British national cruiseship worker who vanished from the Bahamas-flagged Disney Wonder in March this year in unexplained circumstances.

Her parents have since led a well-publicised campaign, demanding that the UK adopt legislation modelled on US law, which allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation and US Coast Guard to investigate cases of missing US citizens regardless of where a ship is registered. In an interview with this newspaper conducted immediately before word of the MAIB inspector cuts went public, Mr Penning explicitly ruled out such a step. Instead, MAIB’s remit will be beefed up to enable it to intervene in such situations.

“We have asked the Marine Accident Investigation Branch to register as an interested party, so that we can start to gather information as well. I have now instructed that, in all cases where a British citizen is involved, we will ask the MAIB to register their interest.

“A lot of flag states just do not have the capability to investigate as fully we would all like them to do. But I want to work with them, rather than say ‘this is what you should do’”.

Following the US was not appropriate for the UK, as the US has far fewer national flag vessels, he said. Mr Penning positively ruled out changes to domestic legislation on this score.

International action was needed, and Britain planned to push for such a step at the International Maritime Organization assembly at the end of this month.

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