Real life case: The necessity of a careful ship navigation in restricted visibility areas

In restricted visibility conditions caused by fog, off southeast coast of Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa Prefecture, a Japanese registered tug, with 5 crew (Japanese) and a Filipino registered general cargo vessel, with 25 crew (Filipino) neared each other, culminating in a collision between the two vessels, 5.4 miles from Tsurugi Saki Lighthouse on April 13, 2006, with the bow of the tug smashing into the port forward part of the general cargo vessel, leading aft on the latter. As a result of the collision, the tug sustained a crushed bow and the other vessel suffered a hole in the shell plating in the port forward section and sank, as water entered through the hole.

Actions to be taken

  • The master should be informed and after that the engine room should maintain the engines to be ready for an immediate maneuver.
  • It would be necessary to close all the watertight doors and openings, shut the ventilation fans and accommodation and engine room ports.
  • The manning level on bridge should be increased and if it is required and there is plan allowing it, an additional bridge team personnel can be provided.
  • The crew must prepare the relative equipment as appropriate, and always be sure that some tools (AIS, echo sounder, fog signaling apparatus, navigation lights, radar, ARPA and VHF) are ready to work, if needed.

Except from these actions, such situations demand the compliance with some of the COLREG-International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, specifically:

  • COLREG Rule 19 – Conduct of vessel in restricted visibility
  • COLREG Rule 35 – Sound signals in restricted visibility
  • COLREG Rule 5 – Look-out
  • COLREG Rule 6 – Safe speed

Last but not least, there should be a contingency plan which ensures that the ship will be ready to reduce speed, stop and turn away from danger or if it is possible to anchor, in case of emergency during ship navigation.

A valuable checklist to ensure safe ship navigation in restricted visibility

A useful checklist aiming to provide information in order to be sure that such actions have been followed properly during ship navigation, like the one provided by SQE MARINE herebelow could be helpful

ship navigation