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Clamour as MAIB “rusting death trap” investigation concludes

The national union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers  (RMT) has called for corporate manslaughter charges in response to findings concerning the 2011 sinking of the Swanland, which resulted in the deaths of six crew.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found that the vessel, sailing under a Cook Islands flag, suffered a “catastrophic structural failure” amidships due to the overloading and poor distribution of its 3000t limestone cargo.

"This shocking and damning report into the avoidable and tragic sinking of the Swanland in the Irish Sea should shame our own government and the international maritime industry into urgent action,” said RMT general secretary Bob Crow. "This rusting death trap of a vessel had been flagged out to the Cook Islands and allowed to dodge the most basic of safety and maintenance regimes. The seafarers on board never stood a chance. Their lives were lost in the name of profit and greed.”

The report noted the switching of classification societies from Lloyd’s Register to International Naval Surveys Bureau in 2009, reducing fees by 30%. MAIB found that Swanland undertook no structural repairs since 2009, and calculated that the vessel’s upper longitudinal strength may have been weakened by up to 18%. "This was a tragic and avoidable accident that cost the lives of six crew,” concluded a MAIB spokesman.

"RMT will not let those responsible for tolerating and encouraging the lack of basic safety that led to the Swanland tragedy off the hook,” concluded Crow. “A repeat of this disaster is just waiting to happen and warm words and lip service in response to this damning MAIB report will achieve nothing. The only answer is decisive and hard line action."

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