New UK SOSREP
The UK has a new SOSREP with the appointment of Stephan Hennig by the MCA to the role of overseeing the UK’s response to accidents at sea.
Stephan Hennig, the new Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention comes from a coastguard background, originally joining the Maritime & Coastguard Agency in 2005 and serving at the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in the Shetland Islands.
After taking up the role of Counter-Pollution and Salvage Officer for Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2012 he served as a regional point of contract for various groups and organisations including: ports, offshore operators, local authorities and environmental regulators.
In 2017 he took up secondment to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy working with the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning in Aberdeen. Following this, in May 2018 he was appointed deputy, then later interim SOSREP before now adopting the role permanently.
Brian Johnson, chief executive of the MCA said: “As we have seen from the serious incidents in UK waters over the past years, the SOSREP has a unique and critical role in rapidly and effectively marshalling the resources of all parties to achieve the best possible outcome. I am delighted we have appointed Stephan as our new SOSREP. He brings a wealth of experience from his years in the MCA both from HM Coastguard and the Counter-Pollution branch and I’m sure the maritime world will benefit from his expertise and personal qualities.”
The role of SOSOREP came about following Lord Donaldson’s review of the loss of the tanker Sea Empress in 1996. While salvage and wreck removal is generally a commercial arrangement between vessel owner and/or underwriter and contractor, when within a state’s territorial waters or on its coastline the involvement and potential intervention of government agencies usually follows.
Crucial decisions, particularly at an early stage often need to be taken and involvement of government ministers in operational matters is not always seen as practicable so the role of SOSREP was established, involving a single person having ultimate control and acting in the public interest. As well as representing the Secretary of State for Transport for conventional shipping casualties SOSREP’s powers also extend to representing the Department of Energy and Climate Change in respect of incidents on offshore installations.
By Peter Barker
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