Extremely confused

Maritime history is full of examples of sudden and ferocious weather conditions that cause accidents or near-accidents.


Your article ‘Rogue Elements’ on freak waves and their possible role in maritime disasters (Feature, 25 February) was very interesting, but I am still confused as to what exactly constitutes a ‘freak wave’.



Surely maritime history is full of examples of sudden and ferocious weather conditions that cause accidents or near-accidents and could be described as ‘freaks of nature’ by those unfortunate enough to encounter them?



In fact, they are just irregular extreme events, with the Asian tsunami disaster being only the most recent and dramatic example.



What I found interesting was the suggestion that responsibility for safety is being farmed out by national governments to standards bodies around the world.



I am sure these organisations have no interest in seeing safety standards lowered, but it is ironic that at a time when many industries — such as my own, electronics — can barely move for regulation from both the UK and Europe, the shipping industry appears to be devolving responsibility away from the centre. I suppose this is a consequence of having such an international industry, although others such as the aviation industry still have a tight grip on their affairs by national governments.



J Collins


Oldham


Lancs