At 6 miles range in fog a tanker on a reciprocal course, on a steady bearing slightly to port of head-on, requested to pass green/green. Both vessels in 40-50 metres water 7 miles from 30m contour. The request was denied and I advised vessel to keep his course and speed and that I would keep out of his way. It took a lot of persuasion to get the other vessel to keep his track. The tanker eventually passed safely astern, but I expressed my concern to the local Coastguard by telephone.
Rule 19 (Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility) states that so far as possible the following should be avoided:
“(i) an alteration of course to port for a vessel forward of the beam, other than a vessel being overtaken”.
The standards of navigation and training need to be addressed.
This report was sent to the tanker’s operator for assessment. The MAB Board are grateful to the operator for looking into the incident and providing the following response:
“It is of course our firm view that the conduct of vessels in restricted visibility is not a matter of VHF discussions, but to act according to the rules. Apart from the conduct required by Colregs, the subject is further emphasized in our existing instructions.
The expression “so far as possible” in Rule 19(d) must interpreted in such a way that an alteration to port is prohibited as long as it is possible to either alter the course to starboard or to stop the ship in time (taking 19 (b) into account).
The alleged incident has been addressed a in a fleet letter, and our Masters have been instructed to have the subject on the agenda at their next Navigational Safety Meeting and ensure the navigation officers full understanding of the issue. We have also instructed the navigation officers to complete the CBT refresher on Colregs, which is available on board all our vessels.”
The MAB considers this to be a good example of an appropriate safety management system response.