Editorial Summer 2010

As I am compiling this issue, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster is still in the news and although the flow of oil from the well has been stopped by a temporary cap, they are still drilling the relief well in order to hopefully provide a permanent end to the leak and we all hope that this will be a successful operation. However successful the relief well might be, eleven workers have lost their lives and several millions tonnes of oil have gushed out unchecked from the well causing death to marine and bird life and untold damage to the environment, yet nobody has been arrested or charged with any criminal offence. One can only imagine the force of law that would be applied to the Captains and officers had several VLCC’s collided and leaked all their cargoes into the Gulf of Mexico! As detailed in the conference report, John Cota, the pilot of the Cosco Busan, received a ten month jail sentence for killing an endangered species! In the conference report you will note that there was a resolution to delete the clause which requires members to participate in the insurance policy. Although this resolution was overwhelmingly defeated, the fact that it was tabled indicates an alarming ignorance as to how vulnerable we are when we have the conduct of a vessel during what is recognised to be the highest risk art of a vessel’s voyage. Maritime incidents around the world, especially any involving pollution, are seemingly no longer classed as accidents but as criminal acts and recent EU legislation has granted commissioners powers to impose criminal sanctions over environmental damage. So for pilots the question is no longer do I actually need insurance but do I have enough cover? If current cases involving pilots are anything to go by the answer is probably no!


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