The last inspection, carried out by this Administration, was held on 7 April last. We had carried out two previous inspections on 12 March and 21 March.
I understand the detentions by the UK authorities were related to the inability of some crew members to perform, to the satisfaction of the inspectors, during emergency exercises or drills on board. It appears that some crew members were not able to display sufficient proficiency when presented with a fire emergency scenario. In addition, it appears the vessel's ISM, international safety management system, which should ensure that such deficiencies are identified in advance, was not of an acceptable standard. Accordingly, the UK authorities detained the vessel until these matters were rectified. Officials from my Department were in contact with their UK colleagues and were kept aware of developments.
Swansea Cork Ferries has claimed that the responsibility for the safe operation of the vessel rests with the owners from whom it has chartered the vessel. It claims the owners must operate the ISM system, train the crews to acceptable standards and provide a safe ship complying with all the statutory requirements. However, in my opinion, Swansea Cork Ferries has a duty of care to those passengers to whom it sells travel tickets. Accordingly, it must play a role in ensuring the owners of the vessel establish any procedures necessary so that those passengers can be carried in safety.