Most collisions occur as a result of an inadequate lookout or unsatisfactory radar watch. The main cause in several of these events is fatigue. The handing over of watch is also a risk factor. Close quarter situations often occur due to late, unsatisfactory or improper alterations of course and speed.
Facts and Findings
- Most collisions occur whilst ship is full away on passage and in fair weather and in calm or slight seas.
- Many instances occur where VHF contact was made, but where information was exchanged with incorrect vessel.
- Overtaking in narrow passages and not following rules of separation zones have an high occurrence rate.
- The crew must understand the importance of adherence to the bridge management procedures.
- A proper lookout must be maintained at all times, along with efficient reporting to watch keeping officer.
- The lookout should not be occupied with activities that may impede the lookout.
- Proceed at safe speed and take into consideration visibility, traffic density, manoeuvrability, weather conditions and limitations of the radar.
- Every effort must be made to ascertain if a close quarters situation is developing – determine by repeated systematic observations any change in radar and compass bearings in addition to any automatic or manual radar plotting.
- Refrain from using VHF to establish passing with another ship, as an agreement could be made with wrong vessel.
- If obliged to give way, take early and substantial action to keep well clear.
- Slowing down is often the best way to avoid a close quarters situation.
- When officers hand over watch, the relieving officer must be briefed on course, speed, traffic, weather and dangers to navigation that could be expected.
- Follow STCW code requirements on rest periods in order to minimise risk of fatigue.
- Master and pilot should agree which language to be used between ship, pilot, tugs and shore.
- Maritime Resource Management training course is recommended to foster positive attitudes favouring good personal communication, excellence in leadership skills and compliance with operating procedures.
For further reading regarding grounding issues, please read our publication Collisions and Groundings that can be found on our Publications.
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