CHIRP Narrative: In the previous edition of Maritime Feedback, we had summarised a report, entitled “Extreme Unpredictability”, about two vessels proceeding on a parallel course up the English Channel. Vessel B suddenly altered course to starboard across the bow of vessel A and then re-crossed with a closest point of approach of only 0.25 mile.
CHIRP has subsequently received a comprehensive reply from the managing company of vessel B. We had previously sent them the original report (with the identity of vessel A not being disclosed.) They had sent a senior manager to vessel B to investigate.
The incident had occurred during the 2000 – 2400 watch, held by a junior officer. He had an experience of six months as an independent watch keeping officer, and was employed for the first time in the company. He had spent about a month and a half on board and was trained in the company’s policies and safety management system. The Master was satisfied with his performance as a watch keeper on board the vessel. On the particular day, the vessel was adjusting its ETA to a port in the vicinity and the Master had instructed the OOW to execute a 180 deg turn manoeuvre at a certain time during his watch. It was promptly obeyed by the watch keeping officer.
The actions of the junior officer were not in line with the ColRegs. Furthermore, the VHF communications between the two vessels appear to have confused the situation.
The manager of vessel B was very concerned both with the incident itself and also that it had not been reported internally in their near-miss reporting system. The company has taken a number of actions. During the pre-joining induction of officers, it has been decided to emphasise company’s No Blame Policy for reporting of Incidents and Near Misses on board. A Safety Alert Bulletin (Internal Company Document) is being circulated for circulation to all the fleet and offices, highlighting the lapses in the above incident especially with regards to use of VHF as a device for collision prevention. It has also been decided to incorporate during onboard training by company training officers, a module which highlights the negative aspects of VHF as a device for collision prevention. Masters are being briefed to appraise new personnel in respect of professional abilities and to reinforce belief in the company’s internal reporting system.
This is a good example of the value of CHIRP. Without the report from ship A, the manager of ship B would not have been aware of the issues. With the report, he was able to act responsibly in investigating the incident, following up with the individual officer and strengthening procedures across his whole fleet.