Near-miss: Sailing close to a construction barge

A member has reported a recent near-miss where a vessel sailed close to a construction barge and crossed over two of its anchor wires. Immediate communication took place between the vessel, the barge and the complex and the vessel moved out of the anchor area. Nobody was hurt and nothing was damaged.

The company noted that:

  • a general navigation warning had not been issued regarding the barge’s work area;
  • the vessel master had not contacted the barge before approaching the barge area.

The company has issued a reminder of relevant rules included under the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG). Relevant rules could be:

  • Rule 5 – “Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.”
  • Rule 8(a) – “Any action to avoid collision shall be … made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship”
  • Rule 8(a)(ii) – “(A power driven vessel shall keep out of the way of) a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre”.

The company involved has also issued the following advice: “Construction barges in the field need a wide anchorage area while working. Normally, navigation warnings indicate the distance to be maintained from the working barge. When no such warning has been provided, it is the master’s responsibility to ensure that the vessel sails at least one nautical mile away from any construction barge, unless communication with the barge has been established, he has permission to come closer than one nautical mile and a sailing course has been established”.