Real Life Incident: Trawler Makes Contact With A Tanker

An inbound tanker was proceeding under pilotage in a restricted waterway. There was an outbound container vessel in the channel ahead of the tanker.

The bridge team observed a­ fishing trawler four points on the port bow at a distance of 1.0 nm. The trawler was not engaged in trawling and was making 8 knots over ground. Initially, it was ascertained that the trawler would cross astern of the tanker with a clearance of about 0.5 miles, so no action was taken by the Master and pilot.

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At the point where the container vessel had approached to within approximately 0.6 nm of the tanker, the ­ fishing trawler altered course to port without notice. It was now attempting to cross ahead of the inbound tanker.

The pilot on the tanker cautioned the trawler over VHF and repeatedly sounded the ship’s whistle to attract attention. On seeing no change in the aspect of the ­fishing trawler, the Master, in consultation with the pilot, altered ship’s course to starboard and reduced speed to half ahead.

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Image Credits:

The pilot on the outbound container vessel was also concerned with the conduct of the trawler and sounded several short blasts on his ship’s whistle. At the last minute, the ­fishing trawler turned to port to avoid a collision, but it came close enough to the tanker to cause a minor contact.

Lessons learned
● Never assume a situation is ‘set in stone’. Be alert and expect the unexpected.
● Remain engaged with the pilot, as did the bridge team on the tanker in this report.


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