Tighter sea-traffic regulations

The article "Britain Begins Look Into Causes of Spill," Jan. 8, alerts us to the need for worldwide sea-traffic control. This could be done economically by equipping ships with transponders, so the same satellites that watch over civilian aircraft for air-traffic controllers could be used to regulate the movement of ships.

This service is especially needed today when ships are automating old single-hulled vessels and placing them under foreign flags to save money. If automation is profitable, why not install monitors to transmit pictures of a ship's indicators, where shore-based marine international traffic controllers can watch over the ship's progress. Mandatory conversion of single-hull tankers to double-hull bottoms would be cheap insurance.

It is better to spend a few million dollars preventing an oil spill, rather than billions of dollars pretending we know how to clean up one. Paul Brailsford, Ipswich, Mass.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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