Approaching an Anchorage

Report Text:

My vessel, a large laden tanker, was making its approach towards a busy anchorage. At the time of the incident we were steering a course of 225° True with a speed of 06 knots, with many ships at anchor on my starboard side.

We saw a bulk carrier just abeam on our port side.  It was on converging course and her speed and my speed was almost equal.  VHF Contact was made with the vessel to ask her intentions. I requested them to slow down & pass from my stern, but they refused and said that they will maintain their course.  I then noticed that the bulk carrier had increased a speed so as to cross my bow from our port side.  When she was 4 points on my port bow at a distance of 6 cables, I stopped my engine & then put it to slow astern.  She finally passed at a distance of 3 cables from my bow.

I was in embarrassing situation as I could not go starboard due to anchored vessels.

The bulk carrier was clearly in violation of Rules 15 and 16.  No attempt was made for a safer passing distance.  There was no apparent reason for her not to alter course to starboard or to reduce speed and pass.

CHIRP Comment:

We contacted the manager of the bulk carrier regarding the incident and he discussed the incident with the Master.  He responded that he did not feel that there had been a dangerous situation. Nevertheless, it does appear from the initial report and the response from the bulk carrier that, by the bulk carrier crossing closely ahead of the tanker, the margin of safety had been eroded.

As a general comment, navigation in or near to a busy anchorage requires a high level of situational awareness, with the bridge team reinforced to achieve this.