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Goleen man to forefront of Polar shipping laws

June 1st, 2017 7:15 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Michael Kingston (left), legal advisor on Polar issues at the Arctic Council Summit in Fairbanks Alaska with Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan, and former Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, Mead Treadwell.

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AN Irish lawyer has been to the forefront of a ground-breaking safety forum for ships in the Polar regions.

Former Lloyds Maritime Lawyer of the Year Michael Kingston from Goleen has been integral to drawing up the new Polar Code, which protects the two Polar regions – the Arctic and the Antarctic – from maritime risks. It came into force in January.

Mr Kingston became interested in maritime law years after his own father tragically died in the Whiddy Oil disaster in 1979 when the Betelgeuse tanker exploded in Bantry Bay.

The Polar Code requires ship owners to have in place contingency plans for all aspects of marine operations including safety of navigation, pollution incidents, ship structure requirements, and search and rescue plans.

In parallel, Lloyd’s and Lloyd’s Register have been actively involved in an industry-led, bottom-up approach to help create standards that will mitigate risk and support those underwriters writing marine risk in polar waters.

Kingston has worked with all eight Arctic states, and many other organisations, including the environmental NGOs, to establish a new forum which should prevent operators from ignoring the requirements of the Polar Code. 

Kingston liaises closely with the Irish Institute of Master Mariners and is working on Ireland becoming an observing member of the Arctic Council.

As a result, the Irish Institute of Master Mariners, as well as the National Maritime College of Ireland and the Commissioner of Irish Lights, will attend a key dinner at Trinity House in London on June 5th.

Kingston said: ‘Ireland must become observing members of the Arctic Council. The path has been paved and given our Polar heritage going back to the days of St Brendan we must take our place at the table with our Arctic neighbours. We are missing out on huge maritime opportunities, and the ability to influence the shaping of the future of an area of the world that is critical to our climate in so many ways.’ 

Meanwhile, Kingston will be giving another talk on the Lusitania and safety at sea, including Cork’s prominence in maritime affairs, at 7.30pm on July 25th at the Rochestown Park Hotel. The talk is in aid of Cork’s Air Ambulance. 

The talk will also be attended by Kevin Vickers, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, who has strong West Cork links, and Head of the United States Coastguard Maritime Safety Centre, Captain John Mauger.

Tickets are €12 and available from Eventbrite.ie. Search for ‘RMS Lusitania & Modern Safety at Sea – A talk by Michael T Kingston.’

Kingston has also secured the presence of Dana Eidsness, head of Maine’s International Trade Centre. She is expected to come to Cork with airline Norwegian from Boston to highlight the new Cork-US flights. There will also be tours for the high profile visitors of the Old Head of Kinsale Signal Station and the new Lusitania garden. 

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