Lack of adherence to colregs and a fishing boat operating in the wrong place led to a collision between the 30,000 gt bulker CMB Biwa and a 77 gt fishing boat in Rizhao port, Shandong Province, China, on 5 May 2009. Two fishermen died, three remain missing and two were injured in the incident.
According to the recently-released report the Belgium-flagged Biwa was on passage with a cargo of 52,000 tonnes of coal from Indonesia. On the night of 4 May she was instructed to go to Number 1 anchorage at Rizhao Port. Approaching to anchorage numerous fishing vessel vessels were spotted. At 0056, while attempting to manoeuvre between two underway fishing vessels, 1607 and 1608, fishing vessel 1608 turned to port towards Biwa, Biwa’s master order hard-a-starboard but struck the starboard side of the fishing vessel at an SOG of 10.5 knots, resulting in damage to the the vessel, the loss of two lives, two injured and three missing.
Says the report: “The bow of BIWA collided with the bow starboard of fishing boat 1608 and BIWA stopped engine immediately. At 0057hrs, the vessel turned on the deck lights and the no (sic) under-command light. At 0115hrs, the vessel turned off SVDR and stored the data in SVDR… At 0120hrs, the vessel left the scene for No. 1 anchorage.”
In its analysis the MSA report says: “…BIWA did not follow the regulation of give-way vessel in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. When facing the close-quarters situation, it turned to starboard, trying to pass through the two fishing boats is the direct cause of the collision… When obviously BIWA did not fulfill its give-way vessel obligations, and all vessels in a close-quarters situation, fishing boat 1608 did not take avoiding actions in ample time, which is the indirect reason.”
“…Biwa did not maintain a proper look-out by all available means appropriate, and did not maintain a continuous observation of fishing boats 1608 and 1607 at her starboard, nor did she make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision… When crossing with fishing boats 1608 and 1607 so as to involve risk of collision, BIWA did not take early and substantial action to keep well clear of fishing boats 1608 and 1607, which were restricted in her (sic) ability to manoeuvre… After overtook (sic) 1607 via her starboard side, Biwa took hard-a-starboard, trying to pass through the fishing vessel…
When found there were fishing boats working in front, BIWA did not take any action to reduce her speed, but rather keep a pretty high speed till collided with fishing boat1608… After the collision, in the condition of no serious danger to herself, Biwa did not try to rescue the crew in danger, which violates the International Convention for Saving Life at Sea and rule 37 and rule 38 in the Law of Traffic Safety at Sea of
People’s Republic of China.”
“…Fishing boat 1608 fished in the port area and impeded the safe navigation of other vessels, which violates rule 22 in the Law of Traffic Safety at Sea of People’s Republic of China… When it became apparent to her that the vessel required to keep out of the way was not taking appropriate action, fishing boat 1608 did not take action to avoid collision by her manoeuvre alone, but rather keep her speed and did not turn to the port side till less than one minute before the collision.”
“When fishing in the waters of the port area, the vessel did not use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstance and conditions to make full appraisal of the risk of collision. At 0045hrs, the captain of 1607 informed fishing boat 1608 that a big vessel approached from east to west. But fishing boat 1608 kept her speed instead of take any action. The vessel did not take the prevailing circumstances and the difficult of manoeuvring for fishing vessels under work into consideration.”
MSA ha recommended that “Maritime Transport of Belgium shall give additional inspection for the safety management of Anglo-Eastern (Antwerp)” and that Rizhao Port “set a series of safety management measures in consideration of the port channels and the VTS”.
The full report can be downloaded here.