New rules needed for North Sea vessels, says safety organisation

Talks with transport minister about motorway-style lanes

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Existing maritime traffic rules are no longer adequate in the German Bight, according to the Protection Association for the German North Sea Coast. With nine offshore wind farms planned or under construction the risk of collision is growing.

The existing rule that gives priority to vessels coming from the right rule means container ships have to give way to small vessels moving from an offshore wind site into a traffic channel. "This can't work when a 2km distance is needed to stop," explained Dieter Harrsen, district administrator of the coast region of north Friesland, and urged for new rules. "Either the container ship gives way starboard and rams a turbine or it gives way to the port side in the way of oncoming traffic or it holds course and hits the small ship."

Currently, the German federal government foresees shipping channels in which vessels can criss-cross at will. "Many navigators judge this to be dangerously reckless. What is needed is a motorway structure with a separating region between the opposite lanes," said Harrsen. Talks are planned with federal transport minister, Peter Ramsauer.


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