A report outlining a near miss in the Mediterranean Sea that almost resulted in a collision.
What the Reporter told us:
Whilst on watch during the night I heard an Italian fishing boat several times calling a ro-ro ferry on VHF channel 16, asking her to keep clear of him as he was trawling and displaying the required navigation and fishing lights. Italian was the language in use. The fisherman also provided his position and said he had been flashing a light for the last five minutes. As he did not receive any answer from the Ro-Ro ship, and considering that the vessel had not altered course and speed at all, he had to take evasive action and stopped his boat, ending up just 10 meters from the passing cargo ship. The fisherman contacted the nearest local Italian coastguard station shortly afterwards to report the near miss, and he was told that an investigation would be conducted upon his return to port the following day.
It’s really shocking to still hear such conversations on VHF. In this case the lack of a proper lookout could have resulted in a collision – the actions of the fishing boat skipper prevented it.
What the Third Party told us:
CHIRP wrote to the ISM Managers of the vessel but they declined to respond.
The Maritime Advisory Board commented that with the exception that the use of VHF should not be used for collision avoidance, the fishing vessel’s actions were appropriate when raising awareness of the risk of collision. Additionally, whilst it is pleasing that the Italian coastguard undertook to follow up, it is disappointing that the Company in question did not respond, indicating a poor company management safety culture.