Own vessel was on eastbound passage at night in good visibility in the Southern North Sea intending to cross the Traffic Separation Scheme at the Foxtrot 3 junction (F3). At about 20 minutes prior to arriving at the TSS, the crossing of the TSS was discussed, looking ahead on the radar identifying any ships in the area of the TSS during our crossing. There were five identified vessels including XXXXX, course 222, speed 14.5 knots, in the SW lane. There were three other vessels close together east of the F3 junction and one vessel astern of this group all heading westerly towards the F3.
It was determined that XXXXX was on a steady bearing with a potential close quarter’s situation. At 4.5 miles we flashed at XXXXX with the Aldis, followed by a VHF call on CH 16. On a working channel, the situation was explained, requesting he complied with the COLREGS and alter course to starboard and pass astern of me – XXXXX agreed to this request. At 2 miles XXXXX from the AIS data showed a small alteration to port to a heading of 213 to follow the traffic lane. Own ship commenced turning to starboard until on a near parallel heading and 1mile away, it was decided that due to the relative speeds and other vessels in the TSS the safest option was to continue a controlled turn to starboard, completing a round turn before resuming our passage.
There appears to be a false belief by some crews of following a traffic lane gives a right of way over crossing traffic.
We have decided to publish this report:
- As an example of the good practice on the reporter’s vessel of the planning of the crossing of the TSS, with good communication of the plan with the bridge team.
2 To emphasise the point made in the report and in the MCA Marine Guidance Note 364 that vessels proceeding in a Traffic Separation Scheme do not have priority over crossing traffic.