Real Life Incident: Lack of Communication Leads To Close Quarters Situation Between Two Vessels

A ro-ro passenger ferry departed berth and, as usual, made a securité broadcast on VHF radio. Once underway and in the midst of a turn at about 15 knots, an inbound fishing vessel was observed. The bridge team on the ferry deemed the fishing vessel to be on the wrong side of the fairway.

Hence, the starboard turn was slowed and the ferry continued on the south side of the fairway to give some room for the fishing vessel; ostensibly dictating a green to green passing.

Ferry on chart

The fishing vessel’s operator, who had heard the ferry’s securité call, saw the ferry and instinctively turned to starboard, towards the south side of the fairway. The vessels were involved in a very close quarters situation but last minute manoeuvres avoided a collision.

The investigation found, among others, that the situation was caused by:

  • Inadequate positioning of both vessels.
  • Lack of communication resulting in misunderstanding of intentions.

Lessons learned

  • If you intend a green to green encounter, best communicate with the other vessel to confirm their understanding of the situation.

Reference: nautinst.org

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One Comment

  1. Listen the rules are pretty clear. Always turn right, and never cross ahead. Never a collision.

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