Collision Avoidance – Overtaking

31st December 2006

Collision Avoidance - Overtaking

Initial Report

Report Text:

Own vessel course 317 (T) smg 8 kts.  Other vessel co 317 (T) speed 22 Kts; good visibility, plenty of open water for collision avoidance.

Lookout reports other vessel 5NM directly astern of own vessel.  ARPA plot is acquired & visual bearings maintained (There is no other conflicting traffic).  It is obvious from both these methods and visually looking at the ferry’s aspect that we are a classic, well defined stand-on vessel and the ferry is give way vessel (Rule 13 applies).

Over an unspecified period of time the range between the two vessels reduces with no apparent change in course by the ferry (0.0 CPA) with the aid of AIS & double checking other vessel’s posn in relation to ourselves.  The other vessel is contacted at 1 NM range via VHF and is asked of intentions & requested to give more sea room to own v/l.  Other vessel OOW obliges and alters 3 deg to stbd.  CPA is now 0.1 NM.  Realising this guy is taking a huge risk, own v/l alters course 10 deg to port increasing CPA to 0.3NM/0.4Nm.  No further contact with other vessel is made.  Master advised.

I have never witnessed such risk taking!  If either of us had experienced main engine or rudder failure this could have been a MAIB report & no doubt TV headlines.  Why are operators prepared to take such risks?

CHIRP Comment:

This report was sent to the overtaking vessel’s operator for assessment.

“… on behalf of my Company, I thank you for bringing this to my attention. It is obvious that I prefer not to have received this report, but we will use it as a valuable learning event, which we take very seriously.

…The Master of the vessel has been immediately informed of this report and he has been requested to give his comments and to address this with all Navigational Officers onboard his vessel.

After considering the report, we have concluded that the rules of the Anti-collision regulations have not been met, which should obviously not be allowed.

This is of course a concern for me as our Fleet Regulations (navigational section) is very clear and takes care to avoid any potentially hazardous situation. These regulations are taking care for enough safe passing distances to allow for a technical failure or human error on either vessel. Fleet Regulations requires a minimum of 0.5 mile beam passing in all situations when safe to do so and require greater safe passing distances where possible.

Reviewing this incident within our Safety Management System did reveal that no improvements to the Fleet Regulations are required, but we do however agree that this report identifies a need for improvement of the human element in carrying out navigational watchkeeping duties.

All Company vessels will be informed of this report and will be distributed by Fleet Circular as a Learning Event to ensure all Officers in charge of the navigational watch do comply with Company and Anti-collision regulations at any time….”

The MAB is grateful to the operator for investigating the incident and for providing another example of an appropriate safety management system response.  Information provided by CHIRP subsequently has identified an individual training need in addition to a fleet wide learning event.

This incident also emphasises the importance of keeping a good lookout astern as well as ahead.  The frequency of high speed transits is increasing in many areas and the time to assess and respond to situations may be limited.  In this incident the vessels were potentially just over 4 minutes from impact.  When would you have reacted?

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