8 Jul 2011 By ANDREW CHUTER DefenseNews
LONDON - An authority responsible for improving safety across land and maritime forces is to be set up within months by the British Ministry of Defence following the launch last year of a similar organization covering military aviation.
A spokesman for the MoD said that although some detailed work remained to be completed, the plan is to form an independent organization known as the Defence Safety and Environment Authority later this year.
"The DSEA will cover non-aviation safety policy and regulation and environmental protection policy and regulation. Further information on the authority is likely to be issued in the autumn," he said.
The MoD's intention to launch the new safety and environmental initiative was signaled in the recent publication of a report recommending far-reaching reforms of the Ministry of Defence.
Last year, the MoD set up the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) to improve regulation and assurance practice from the maintenance hangar to the front line and across the air sector into industry concerning such issues as certification.
The MAA is an independent organization, and its director-general answers directly to the defense secretary.
Run by an air marshal and backed by a staff of about 200 people, the MAA was set up in the wake of a highly critical report by barrister Charles Haddon-Cave into the circumstances surrounding the 2006 crash of a Royal Air Force Nimrod surveillance aircraft, which killed the 14-person crew.
Now the MoD is looking to expand its safety effort into the land and maritime domains while also giving it jurisdiction over environmental issues, something the MAA doesn't get involved in.
The defense reform report said creation of the DSEA "responds to the need for a clearer and simpler corporate safety system."
Exactly how the new authority will impact land and sea operations remains unclear.
In an interview with Defense News in May, Air Marshal Timo Anderson, the MAA director-general, said that some of the work being done by his organization was only relevant to the air domain but others, such as the appointment of aviation duty holders, clearly had a broader value.
The aviation duty holder is a senior officer trained and endorsed by the MAA with a legally accountable requirement for the safe operation of personnel and equipment under his command.
The reform report, ordered by Defence Secretary Liam Fox and produced by an outside panel of exports led by ex-defense procurement chief Lord Levene, said it would be logical at some point to merge the MAA and DSEA.