Alterations to autopilot settings by the chief officer of the Gibraltar-registered containership Philipp resulted in a ‘curve of pursuit’ that ended with a collision with the fishing vessel Lynn-Marie. Despite being aware of the collision neither the Philipp chief officer nor the master determined whether the struck vessel required assistance.
The incident is reported by Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, which concludes that the chief officer of Philipp did not use all information available to determine the possibility of collision.
In its summary, MAIB says: “At 0453 UTC on 9 April 2011, the Gibraltar registered, container feeder vessel Philipp collided with the United Kingdom registered scallop dredger FV Lynn Marie 6nm south of the Isle of Man. There were no injuries or pollution, but Lynn Marie was badly damaged and was towed to Port St Mary, Isle of Man.
“After the collision, Philipp did not stop and neither her officer of the
watch (OOW) nor her master tried to communicate with Lynn Marie to see if the fishing vessel required assistance.
Philipp was about 20nm away from the location of the collision when her master eventually informed the coastguard of
his vessel’s involvement”.
Says the report: “It is therefore of serious concern that neither Philipp’s master nor her chief officer tried to communicate with Lynn Marie to determine whether the fishing vessel required assistance following the collision. Indeed, the master did not even report the accident to the coastguard until over 1 hour after the collision, and then he had to be prompted to do so by the ship’s manager”.
In it’s conclusions the report says:
• Philipp’s chief officer did not utilise the full extent of the information available to him regarding vessels’ courses, speeds, bearing changes, and CPAs. Instead, he relied solely on his visual assessment of the relative movement of other vessels. This resulted in him making an inaccurate assessment of the risk of collision with Lynn Marie.
• The action taken by Philipp’s chief officer to avoid Lynn Marie did not comply with the requirements of the COLREGS, and led to the container ship following a curve of pursuit towards the fishing vessel.
• Lynn Marie’s wheelhouse watchkeeper correctly assessed that Philipp was initially passing clear, but did not notice the container ship’s alterations of course towards his vessel until it was too late for him to take effective avoiding action.
• There is a need for vessel managers to ensure that their officers are competent, and that they are trained and capable of gaining the maximum benefit from the navigational aids available.
• Lynn Marie’s skipper’s decision to use an unqualified wheelhouse watchkeeper, who did not fully understand the operation of the vessel’s navigation equipment or have a working knowledge of the COLREGS, to take Lynn Marie to the fishing ground in a busy shipping environment and in the dark, was inappropriate.
• Neither Philipp’s master nor her chief officer tried to communicate with Lynn Marie to determine whether the fishing vessel required assistance following the collision.