• December 26, 2010

The Celtic League has written to the European Maritime Safety Agency to express concern at the United Kingdom government’s decision to withdraw funding for emergency towing vessels (ETVs) from next year.

ETVs were introduced by several European governments several years ago following a series of catastrophic oil tanker incidents off Western Europe which polluted sea areas from Spain to Northern Scotland.

Several maritime states (notably the UK, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany) maintain ETVs and the UK government’s decision sets a worrying precedent for maritime safety and the security of the marine environment

“The Secretariat
European Maritime Safety Agency
Cais do Sodré
1249-206 LISBOA


Dear Sir,

I write to express our concern at the decision of the United Kingdom government to directly fund the provision of emergency towing vessels (ETVs) as part of the comprehensive spending cuts.

The provision of ETVs was given priority following several high profile environmental catastrophes involving tanker traffic off the coasts of Western Europe. However the provision of ETVs is very much at the whim and financial discretion of National governments.

Can you advise if EMSA has looked at a coordinated EU approach to both the provision of ETVs and coastguard and maritime protection around European coastlines?

Could you also advise if EMSA will be expressing concern to any EU governments which currently provide ETV provision about any diminution of the present level of cover?

There was a degree of irony that within days of the UK announcing the withdrawal of its support for the UK ETV fleet one of those vessels was involved in the recovery of a stranded British nuclear submarine. The incident drove home the critical value and importance of ETV provision from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and around the British Isles.

I do hope that EMSA will be proactive in safeguarding this valuable resource in terms of Maritime safety.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt
Director of Information.”

Link to information on TVs here:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


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