The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (“COLREGS”), as amended, provides general rules to be followed in order to avoid collisions at sea where good seamanship should complement these rules. There has been a significant number of collisions where misuse of VHF radio equipment and AIS information has been established to be a contributory factor.
Poor communication has been a main contributing factor in numerous maritime casualties, varying from groundings and collisions to entire ship losses and even worse, fatalities. We picked three accidents from the years 2018 and 2019 to create a better understanding of how this simple-to-hear factor can be vital to a ship’s safety.
Transport Malta’s MSIU issued an investigation report on the collision of LNG carrier ‘ASEEM’ and the VLCC ‘SHINYO OCEAN’ in the passage channel of the Fujairah Offshore Anchorage Area, UAE, in March 2019.
In August 2018, the container ship, ANL Wyong, and the gas carrier, King Arthur, collided in darkness, dense fog and an area of heavy shipping traffic, off Gibraltar. The UK MAIB issued an investigation report on the incident.
JTSB issued a report on a collision between the general cargo ship SM3 and the oil tanker Koutoku Maru off Kanmon Port, in September 2018. When communicating with approaching vessels becomes necessary, masters and crew should not only call the vessel’s name but also implement VHF communication proactively, JTSB said.
The US Navy is creating a system for its unmanned robotic warships to be able to communicate like human sailors, allowing the ship to safely navigate through waterways. The goal of his technology is to allows human bridge crews to talk with robot ships using normal speech over the worldwide radio system used for ship-to-ship communication.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority highlights the importance of a two-way communication between the parent vessel and their dories or tenders, to boost safety and “be there” to assist or in case of an urgent medical help.
With respect to the recent figures on boating safety, Maritime NZ stressed that waterproof communications can save a life: An estimated 59% of recreational boating fatalities involve inadequate communications, and only 40% of boaties report having two ways to call for help every time they go on the water.
As activity in the Vancouver harbour increases with more commercial and recreational boaters sharing the waterways, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Vancouver Police Department Marine Unit issued guidance encouraging boaters to follow safe boating practices.
The US Coast Guard provided guidance for acceptance of electronic visual distress signal devices (eVDSDs) that are evaluated as meeting the design and performance requirements of the recently published Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services Standard 13200.0 for Electronic Visual Distress Signal Devices.
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