Written Answers. - Submerged Vessel Locator Buoy.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

241 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the position in relation to the development of a device for locating sunken boats which was raised with his Department continuously since November 1998 and more recently with him by a deputation in May 2000 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19887/00]

The issue to which the Deputy refers relates to a design for a submerged vessel locator buoy which was first brought to the attention of my Department by the developer, Mr. John Kelly, Moville, County Donegal, in August 1996, and was forwarded to the Department's technical experts in the marine survey office for their consideration. Since that time, the marine survey office has provided Mr. Kelly with advice, both orally and in writing, in relation to his product and in particular, on the technology which would be required, such as the attachment of a suitable locator beacon, in order for it to be considered as an effective means of marking the location of a sunken vessel.

I understand that Mr. Kelly is now seeking the approval of my Department so that he can proceed with the marketing of this piece of equipment. The marine survey office's only role in approving safety equipment is to ensure that such equipment fitted on Irish registered vessels complies with our domestic legislation for vessels operating in Irish waters and with the International Maritime Organisation's Safety Of Life At Sea Convention (SOLAS) for vessels on international voyages. While there are provisions in our legislation requiring the carriage of emergency position indicating radio beacons, EPIRBs, on certain types of vessels, including fishing vessels, there is however no requirement in either our legislation or in SOLAS which requires the fitting of locator buoys like the one designed by Mr. Kelly on vessels. Consequently, there is no mechanism by which my Department can certify this locator buoy in accordance with SOLAS, nor is there any formal approval process which allows for the endorsement of the product by my Department.
While my Department does not have a role in approving Mr. Kelly's product, I assure the Deputy that I particularly welcome the initiative shown by him in developing his idea. I am thankful to him for bringing his concept to my attention and I wish him well with the further development and marketing of his product.