February 4 - Energy company Shell has been criticised over plans to use a ship named after a convicted Nazi war criminal to decommission a North Sea oil field.
Shell awarded the contract for the decommissioning of the Brent field to the Allseas Group, owners of the massive ship, Pieter Schelte.
The vessel is named after the father of Allseas owner Edwin Heerema, Pieter Schelte Heerema, who served in the Waffen SS during the Second World War.
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is demanding that Allseas immediately change the vessel's name.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said the vessel's name was a disgrace and it should not be permitted to operate in UK or European waters. "For Allseas to name its vessel after a convicted Nazi war criminal is utterly shameful," he said.
"To even countenance honouring a Waffen-SS officer just shows how twisted, arrogant and out-of-touch Allseas management is."
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton commented: "It is almost unthinkable that Allseas would have a vessel honouring a senior Nazi war criminal operating in European waters. It is nothing short of a grave insult. The Pieter Schelte should not be permitted to operate until it changes its name."
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Coming just days after we remembered the liberation of Auschwitz it is sickening that a vessel named after a senior Nazi is set to be working on a tax-payer funded contract in British waters. This scandal must be stopped and RMT will work with our sister union's and the ITF to bring this outrage to public attention and force it to be called to a halt."
Steve Todd, RMT national secretary, added: "This shocking news compounds the fact that with a massive decommissioning programme in place on the offshore UK continental shelf over the next 10 to 20 years, out of all the vessels that will be used hardly any of them will have British crews on board. Furthermore, we will be lucky if any of the work from the decommissioning benefits anywhere in the UK or any of the UK workforce and yet it is UK taxpayers money that will fund the programme.
"That is an absolute disgrace which is brought into sharp focus by the revelation that a union-busting company, using a ship honouring a top German Nazi and flagged out to Panama, stands to rake in a fortune at British taxpayers' expense."
Schelte disappeared in August 1943 and joined a resistance group in Switzerland. He was arrested after the war and jailed for three years, but was released after one and a half for his work with the resistance. The Dutchman later went on to become a respected maritime engineer.
In the mainstream media Shell is reported to have said that it cannot comment on the name of the vessel, which is entirely a matter for Allseas.