Although technology has conferred in many ways the safety in shipping industry, it’s a fact that ship collision incidents continue to happen, constituting one of the most common types of maritime accidents.

Probable causes of ship collision incidents

As we all know, collision is a structural impact that occurs between two vessels and may result in severe damages, pollution or even loss of human lives. Most ship collisions have been caused by

  • lack of communication between vessels,
  • incompetence,
  • poor knowledge,
  • restricted visibility
  • bad weather conditions
  • failures of critical system for vessels’ navigation.

Real life incident

On May 17th, 2017, two bulk carriers were transiting in Singapore Strait. Vessel A suffered a power loss, which resulted in a temporary loss of propulsion and steering. The vessel did not warn VTIS or the surrounding vessels. Due to the loss of power, the AIS transmission ceased, causing the loss of the AIS plot. Vessel B’s bridge team was only monitoring AIS targets on its radars and could not detect the change in Vessel A’s heading and speed. This change was discovered at a very late stage, resulting in the collision of the two bulk carriers in the East-bound water route of the traffic separation scheme (TSS) off Batu Berhanti, in Singapore Strait. Vessel A sustained damages to her bow. Vessel B, sustained major damages, the one to the port side forward ballast tanks both above and below the waterline, to the port side hull and deck fittings from cargo hold no. 1 to just forward of the accommodation. Both vessels were able to proceed to an anchorage, off Singapore where the respective damages were assessed.

Actions to be taken in case of a ship collision

When a ship collision occurs, in order to ensure vessel and personnel’s safety, the following major concern categories should be checked:

  • Vessel’s ability to maintain stability, movement and navigation
  • The functionality of major machinery systems and equipment
  • Crew, cargo and environment safety
  • Notification of all related stakeholders

SQE Marine has prepared a checklist aiming to provide the necessary steps required, in case of vessel’s collision.