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Seamanship: Vessel Collision with Fishing Boat

What happened?

A vessel was in collision with a fishing boat. The incident occurred in foggy, zero visibility conditions on a ballast voyage. Our members’ vessel was passing through some scattered fishing boats at the location. The vessel’s starboard quarter hull came into contact with the fishing boat when the duty officer manoeuvred to avoid collision with the boat.

After the contact, the fishing boat was manoeuvred away on her own power. The Master was called by the duty officer after the incident. The vessel’s attempt to contact the fishing boat was not successful, as no reply was received. Our members’ vessel had paint scratches at the starboard quarter hull, above water line, where the contact had happened. Flag, Protection and Indemnity insurance (P&I) club and the owner were officially notified.

Why is this of interest? What went wrong?

Our member identified some failings in seamanship which may have contributed to the causes of this incident.

  • The duty officer didn’t call the Master to bridge as per standing order for restricted visibility;
  • The engine was not on standby as per standing order when in restricted visibility and heavy traffic
  • The auto fog signal was not on for restricted visibility;
  • Radar management:
    • course plotting was done in radar no.1 only (if at all)
    • radar range was kept on 6nm on both radars for most of the time
    • most of the right ahead targets were not plotted in radar in time for collision avoidance
    • variable range markers (VRM) and electronic bearing lines (EBL) were not fully used to verify the target info; the full functionality of the radar set was not used
    • north up display was used on both radars during the entire process. Head up display would have been more suitable/efficient for collision avoidance
    • rain clutter was used substantially, when no rain was encountered at the time
    • tuning of Radar was on auto.

What were the root causes?

  • Non-compliance, or insufficient compliance, with applicable rules, whether company rules or International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS);
  • The Master’s standing instructions were not followed.

What actions were taken? What lessons were learned?

  • Review and implement procedures, reiterate that the Masters’ standing instructions are there to be followed;
  • Ensure that the crew are trained in proper and effective use of radar and visual lookouts when determining if risk of collision exists;
  • Action towards collision avoidance should be early enough to be sufficient and large enough to be readily apparent to the other vessel.

Members may wish to refer to the following;

Safety Event

Published: 25 September 2018
Download: IMCA SF 22/18

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