Lancaster University

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Lancaster research to improve safety standards for ships

11/23/2001 18:01:13

Lancaster statisticians who gave evidence at the recent High Court investigation into the sinking of the MV Derbyshire, the bulk carrier that sunk in 1980, have completed their analysis of new data that will go into recommendations for international shipping safety standards.

Prof Jonathan Tawn and Dr Janet Heffernan at Lancaster University's department of Mathematics and Statistics, were selected to analyse data last year by the Crown Court Judge who heard the case, after initial analyses were inconclusive. They were given two weeks to analyse data that was collected for the enquiry, opened by John Prescott, into why the MV Derbyshire, the largest British vessel ever to be lost, sank suddenly during a typhoon 350 miles south east of Japan, with the loss of all 44 people on board.

Since then the researchers have been applying the techniques of extreme value theory to help naval architects work out whether safety standards are sufficient across the fleet of bulk carrier ships. This included allowing for extreme whether conditions.

The results were given in October at the conference of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. Their conclusions have been synthesised into recommendations including that ships as large as the Derbyshire, particularly those carrying large loads, need to be built to higher safety specifications.