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LAW AND MANAGEMENT
- Collision between the container ship Beijing Bridge and fishing vessel Saxon Onward, on 23 January 2018.
- Bridge Resource Management.
- Guidelines as per UK law (MGN & MSN)
- Shortcomings of the Bridge Team onboard the Casualties.
- Recommendation to the Owners in order to minimize the risk of such an accident in the future.
- Reference List.
The case study I am going to present is on a Collision between the container ship Beijing Bridge and fishing vessel Saxon Onward which occurred on 23 January 2018 in Tasman Sea, about 3 NM south-east of Gabo Island, Victoria.
The major things I would be highlighting on are about the Collision Incident between the two vessels, Bridge Resource Management and the laws as per UK jurisdiction which could be abided to avoid collision or further risks.
1. Collision between the container ship Beijing Bridge and fishing vessel Saxon Onward, on 23 January 2018.
On January 23, 2018 at approximately 0015, the fishing vessel Saxon Onward had a collision with the 970-foot container ship Beijing Bridge. Following the collision, the crew of the Saxon Onward inspected the 105-foot fishing vessel for damage and found no water intrusion. After the thorough inspection Saxon Onward advised the Beijing Bridge they did not require assistance. The master of the Beijing Bridge made contact with the company’s Designated Person Ashore (DPA) to brief him on the situation. At approximately 0035, both the vessels the Beijing Bridge and the Saxon Onward resumed back on their passage.
2. Bridge Resource Management.
As per STCW Convention and Code 2010 section A/VII-2 the following are the competency criteria for an Officer on the watch or the Master of the vessel:
The OOW (Officer of the Watch) should have the knowledge, proficiency and understanding in working as a team on the bridge so as to maintain a safe watch which would lead to safe navigation and passage of the vessel. The OOW should also possess good internal and external communication skills, good decision making – as well as within the division of work and responsibilities on the bridge and also how to co-operate with people from other cultures in order to ensure an understanding of cultural differences and language barriers.
Bridge resource management comprises of following:-
- Communication – Good communication between the crew members is the key. Common cause of major incidents is inaccurate & incomplete messages. It is important to acknowledge and repeat orders to ensure that they are well understood. It is important to maintain a common language on board the vessel so that communication can become easier and quicker.
- Decision making – A wrong decision taken can lead to many unwanted situations on-board ships. Captain being the most experienced person onboard is therefore regarded as the sole decision maker. Breakdown of situational awareness can result in incidents and accidents. Situational awareness is always important when conducting maneuvers in a restricted area in poor weather where risks ought to be obvious.
- Situation Awareness – Every mariner should think and plan well ahead of time. Officers as well as crew members should be aware of the external and internal conditions that can affect ship safety.
- Teamwork – A team approach ensures that all crew members are involved in problem solving and are not just mere spectators. On the bridge, the watch officer and lookout personnel should work as a team to ensure safe navigation. Safe and effective navigation is not one man’s job as there are many aspects to be looked into. It is important that the bridge team share a common view of the intended passage.
- Fatigue – Fatigue is a major issue among seafarers. Many accident investigating report these days have fatigue as one of the main causes. The ability to analyze is severely impaired due to tiredness. Seafarers generally work long hours and even work at night as there is more demand in meeting time schedules. Proper work and rest hours need to be maintained on-board the ships.
- Making use of all available resources like Navigational equipment, charts, publications etc.
The Bridge team generally comprises of OOW and a lookout.
Master remains overall responsible for the vessel in all circumstances and situation he has the overall authority, he should not be constrained or restricted by any company’s policy or law for safety of vessel and the crew onboard. The Master has to be fully kept informed and should be reported to for any activities onboard the vessel or the area in vicinity with respect to traffic density, weather conditions, bold alterations of courses etc.
OOW at all times maintains situational awareness, monitors the progress of vessel, makes small adjustments and corrective action to maintain a safe passage of vessel, acquires relevant information (weather, traffic density, passage plans etc.) in prevailing circumstances and conditions. While handing over the vessel take into considerations whether the reliving officer is competent to take over the watch make him aware of the situation onboard the vessel as well situation in the vicinity in prevailing circumstances and conditions.
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The responsibility of helmsman is to steer the vessel as per instructions given by Master/ OOW/Pilot and also to advice the officer if there are any constrains or restrictions with respect to steering equipment.
The responsibility of lookout is to maintain a sharp look on traffic, and dangers as well as any hazards or objects in the vicinity of the ship as well the vessel and report it in ample time to the Officer or Master on the Bridge.
As per STCW Convention and Code 2010 section A/VII-2 responsibility of safe navigation of vessel should be the utmost priority at all times even if the Master is on the bridge or not.
3. Guidelines as per UK law (MGN & MSN)
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (the Act) provides the legal mechanism to help ensure clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas by putting in place a new system for improved management and protection of the marine and coastal environment.
Guidelines laid as per following UK law could also be followed:
1. MGN 315 (M) – KEEPING A SAFE NAVIGATIONAL WATCH ON MERCHANT VESSELS
The above MGN 315 provides guidelines to the Master /Owners/Management/as well as the watch keepers regarding the keeping of a safe navigational watch.
2. MGN 379- (M+F) – NAVIGATION USE OF ELECTRONIC NAVIGATION AID
The Above MGN 379(M+F) emphasizes on the need for correct use of navigational equipment by watch-keepers.
3. MGN 564 (M+F) – (MARINE CASUALTY & MARINE INCIDENT REPORTING)
The above MGN 564 describes how marine casualties and marine incidents should be reported to MAIB. This notice replaces MGN 458.
4. MSN 1781(THE MERCHANT SHIPPING REGUATION 1996 NOTICES)
Outlines the changes to annex IV of the convention on the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea, 1972 (COLREGs).
5. MGN 324(AMMENDEMENT 1 WATCH KEEPING SAFETY VHF RADIO&AIS)
Outlining the use of Very High Frequency radio (VHF) and the appropriate use of the Automatic Identification System (AIS).
6. MSN 1868 (M) UK requirements for safe manning and watch keeping
Explains safe manning requirements in merchant shipping regulations 2015 and standards of training, certification and watch-keeping (STCW) convention and code.
4. Shortcomings of the Bridge Team onboard the Casualties.
- Beijing Bridge’s planned alteration of course placed the ship in a developing close quarter situation involving risk of collision with Saxon Onward. The alteration of course was neither substantial nor made in good time and was inconsistent with the master’s standing orders, company procedures and COLREGs. The action failed to remove the ship from the existing close quarter situation and increased the risk of a collision. The officer of the watch was the sole lookout on the bridge on the night of the collision and for several weeks before the collision. The absence of the bridge lookout during hours of darkness increased risk and was in violation of company procedures and international regulations.
- Saxon Onward’s alteration of course was made in response to the head-on situation that the watch-keeper assessed the vessel to be in. The alteration, while substantial, was made in insufficient time to have a positive effect on the situation and resulted in the collision.
The COLREG’s provide rules actions required of vessels in specific situations involving risk of collision. Rules such as head on (Rule 14), crossing (Rule 15) and overtaking (Rule 13) apply on the vessels involved in collision. Rule 14 applies to vessels in sight of one another and requires vessels in a head on situation involving risk of collision to each alter their course to the right unless other arrangements have been made.
The rules also state that any action to avoid collision should the alterations should be large enough to be apparent to the other vessel and be made in ample time. The Beijing Bridge’s company procedures specified that the Officer of the Watch could be the sole lookout on the bridge during daylight hours only. At the time of the collision, the third mate was the only person assigned to be on the bridge and no other lookout was posted. The absence of the bridge lookout during hours of darkness increased risk and was in violation of company procedures.
Beijing Bridge’s company policy and the standing orders from the ship’s master required that effective action be taken to avoid collision in compliance with the COLREG’s.
Saxon Onward’s alteration of course was made in response to the head on situation. The alteration was not made in sufficient time to have a positive effect on the situation and resulted in the collision.
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If the OOW finds a vessel on a head-on situation, he should make his intentions clear well in advance. The bridge team should be aware that in case of emergency, the senior team could be called upon to respond for the emergency. General emergency alarm should be sounded without any hesitation. The OOW should not hesitate in taking immediate emergency action before the master arrives on the bridge. Also SOLAS requires that an illustrated table describing the ship lifesaving appliances should be kept on the bridge. If in case of casualty watch keeping officers on a ship that is likely to be engaged in transfer of personnel by helicopter is familiar to helicopter ship operation.
5. Recommendation to the Owners in order to minimize the risk of such an accident in the future.
- Taking early and effective action and the keeping of a proper lookout in accordance with the COLREGs could prevent such collisions.
- Planned course alterations at waypoints should be risk assessed taking into account the traffic situation and movement of vessels in the vicinity. Course alterations at waypoints should be conducted so as to minimize the risk of the alteration generating close quarters situations or risk of collision. While an alteration of course, for whatever purpose, may be logical to an officer on their own ship, the action may be confusing and open to interpretation by observing vessels.
- Proper navigation lights should be used and use of sound alarms in case of restricted visibility to make the alterations known and avoiding any collision.
- Collision between the container ship Beijing Bridge and fishing vessel Saxon Onward, on 23 January 2018. Available from:https://www.atsb.gov.au/media/5774634/mo-2018-002-final.pdf
- International Chamber of Shipping, 2016. BRIDGE PROCEDURE GUIDE. 5th Edition. London: ICS
- International Maritime Organization, 2018. ISM CODE Edition: 2018. London: IMO
- International Maritime Organization, 2017. STCW Code and Convention: Including the Manila Amendments. London: IMO
- MCA, 2004. MSN 1781 (M+ F) – The Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions) Regulations 1996 Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications
- MGN 167 (M + F) – Dangers in the Use of VHF Radio in Collision Avoidance
- Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications
MCA, 2006. MGN 315 (M) – KEEPING A SAFE NAVIGATIONAL WATCH ON MERCHANT VESSELS.
- Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications
- MGN 379- (M+F)- NAVIGATION USE OF ELECTRONIC NAVIGATION AID Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications
MGN 564 (M+F) – (MARINE CASUALTY & MARINE INCIDENT REPORTING)
- Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications
- MGN 324(AMMENDEMENT 1 WATCH KEEPING SAFETY VHF RADIO&AIS)
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