Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) issued an investigation report on the collision of two container ships while Hanshin Port, Kobe Area, Japan, in May 2018. The incident resulted to no fatalities, but it highlighted issues associated with poor communication and misjudgment.
The container ship ‘NYK Venus’, carrying 30 people onboard, was turning toward the south entrance of Rokko Island East Coast of Kobe Area of Hanshin Port from the northeastward under escort by a Pilot.
The container ship SITC Osaka, carrying 18 people onboard, was proceeding toward in the direction of northwest for the south entrance of Kobe Chuo Passage.
The vessels collided in the early morning hours of 4 May 2018 in the vicinity of Kobe Rokko Island, East Waterway Central Floating Lighted Buoy.
NYK Venus caused damage at the starboard side bow, and SITC Osaka caused damage at the accommodation spaces on the port side stern. There were no fatalities.
- While NYK Venus was traveling northeastward and turning left toward the south entrance of East Waterway and the SITC OSAKA was traveling northwestward toward the south entrance of the Kobe Chuo Passage, the Pilot of NYK Venus thought that the vessel was able to pass by the stern side of SITC OSAKA and thus continued to navigate while turning left. Meanwhile, the Master of SITC OSAKA, thinking that it was able to pass by the bow side of NYK Venus, continued to proceed northwestward.
- The judgement of the pilot probably came as NYK Venus was slowing down even though turning left. Additionally, by observing the relative orientation of the vessels with his eyes, the Pilot likely overestimated that NYK Venus would be able to pass by stern side and was not aware of the risk of collision.
- The Master of SITC OSAKA thought that the it would be able to pass by the bow side of NYK Venus because, by observing NYK Venus’ traveling direction and from the radar’s predicted course, he thought NYK Venus would maintain the course of travel.
- It is probable that the two vessels were not communicating information by VHF in early stage of the encounter, for example letting each other know the course their own vessel was taking.
- It is likely that the Pilot and crew on NYK Venus were not having verbal communication in regard to maneuvering their own vessel and the movement of the other vessel, while the Master of the vessel did not keep a lookout, because of focusing his attention on the meeting about entering the port.
As a result of investigation, the JTSB recommended the following measures in order to prevent reoccurrence of similar accident:
- A pilot should always adequately keep a lookout by using navigation equipment, such as radar and ECDIS, in addition to sight observation.
- When there is a risk of approaching another vessel at a close distance, even if the relative orientation of the other vessel may seem to be changing, a pilot of a large vessel should ask for cooperation of the other vessel by using VHF because of the risk of collision.
- A pilot should communicate (including verbal communication) maneuvering and the other vessel’s movement with crew in the bridge. Also, if local language was used to transmit information, the contents should be conveyed to the Master. They should share information.
- A master should communicate (including verbal communication) maneuvering of the vessel and movement of the other vessel with crew and a pilot in the bridge.
- Crew, including a master, should be aware that the master is responsible for navigation, even when a pilot is onboard, and thus they should continue to keep a lookout.
- A master or a pilot should know that CPA, which the position of the GPS is used as a reference point, does not take into account the length and the width of a vessel. Thus they should keep enough distance between other vessels in order to navigate safely.
- A master should have the crew understand VDR operation, in order to keep objective data of the time of an accident.
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