Proposed Changes To Maritime Law Threatens Existence Of Dunkirk “Little Ships”

Posted on February 20, 2019

The Little Ships that helped rescue British troops from Dunkirk in 1940 might be scrapped because of new regulation, a group has claimed. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency wants all ships to comply with modern standards and that means some older boats will need their decks raised.

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships says the proposed change could mean some Little Ships will be scrapped or abandoned.  “We’re very concerned,” Jason Carley from the association told Forces News. “The new rules would affect predominately the commercially operated Dunkirk Little Ships which tend to be the largest. They don’t make sense to operate in private hands. So they’re often operated in giving tours on the river. If those Little Ships essentially have to be completely rebuilt then, we don’t think for those owners it’s going to make economic sense which probably means they’ll end up rotting away in a shipyard somewhere.”

Mr Carley estimates that between five and 10 out of over 100 operational vessels could be at risk. Most are large and privately owned. “At this stage to lose what could be 5 or 10% of the fleet of all Dunkirk Little Ships that still survive would be a real tragedy,” he added.  Mr Carley says he is still “hopeful” that an exemption can be given to the Little Ships: “Just like we make some allowances for the Battle of Britain memorial flight from an aviation point of view, we do think it’s reasonable to give some consideration to the Little Ships and we hope that will be taken into account as part of this consultation.”

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