Mar 082012

Marks on Cosco Hong Kong’s bulbous bow

At 0218 on 6 March 2011, the UK registered container ship Cosco Hong Kong collided with the China registered fish transportation vessel Zhe Ling Yu Yun 135. The accident occurred in international waters off the coast of Zhejiang Province, China. Zhe Ling Yu Yun 135 sank almost immediately, with the loss of 11 lives. Cosco Hong Kong was not damaged.
On impact, Cosco Hong Kong’s officer of the watch (OOW) felt an unusual vibration
and immediately put the engine telegraph to stop. He did not see Zhe Ling Yu Yun 135 immediately before or after the collision and he was unaware of what the container ship had struck. Cosco Hong Kong remained drifting in the vicinity for over one hour while the master tried to establish what had happened.  In the absence of any evidence that a collision had occurred, Cosco Hong Kong then resumed passage to Yangshan, China.
The Taizhou Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre was notified that Zhe Ling Yu Yun 135 was missing at 2021, 18 hours after the collision. An air and sea search failed to find any trace of the vessel or her crew. The wreck of Zhe Ling Yu Yun 135 was eventually located
on 17 March 2011 close to the position of the collision.

Factors that led to the collision included:

•     The performance of Cosco Hong Kong’s OOW fell well short of expected standards. He did not correctly apply the collision regulations or follow onboard instructions.
•     Zhe Ling Yu Yun 135 and Cosco Hong Kong turned towards each other at about the same time when only about 1.5nm apart and with a closing speed of over 20kts.
•     Cosco Hong Kong’s OOW was the sole lookout.  In darkness, in adverse weather conditions, and among large concentrations of fishing vessels, he did not see that Zhe Ling Yu Yun 135 was approaching.
•     Even though many fishing vessels were concentrated in the area, Cosco Hong Kong’s master or OOW did not consider amending the voyage plan, reducing speed, or enhancing the bridge manning.

Recommendations have been made to the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and COSCO Maritime UK Ltd (Cosmar) intended to improve bridge watchkeeping standards on all vessels managed by Cosmar and other COSCO subsidiaries. A recommendation has
also been made to the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China aimed at increasing the survivability of Chinese fishermen following marine casualties.

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