A video filmed for the Internet at a wind farm location shows two vessels involved in a high-speed pass in the wind farm safety zone at very close quarters. The Video was filmed from the Vessel ‘B’. Vessel ‘A’ is capable of 30 Knots and so is Vessel ‘B’. Without actually knowing the speed of the vessels but going by what I can see, I would say both vessels were flat out, a 60kt approach speed The main factor is that the boats were very close as their bow waves clearly over lap as they pass.
CHIRP contacted all parties. Owner “A” replied: The master of the vessel stated the high-speed passing had been an opportunistic controlled event in near perfect conditions for an impromptu photo/video opportunity. He stated the distance between the vessels had at no time been less than the required 50 metres in the safety zone. A call received from their client at the wind farm expressed grave concerns over the activity and potential for a major incident. In an internal enquiry, all persons onboard stated a minimum 50 metres distance was maintained. The owners reviewed the report; they identified the potential for things to go seriously wrong whilst involved in unnecessary close passes and the implications of such acts. They reminded staff of the company’s Safe Navigation policy and stated this activity would not happen again.
The Owners of Vessel ‘B” indicated their vessel speed was 35 knots. The masters of both vessels had agreed to do a high-speed pass in order to get video footage of each other. Headings and speeds were agreed prior to the pass, along with an agreed 50 metres clearance that was upheld at all times in the pass. They stated as the vessel can stop in it’s own length there was no case to answer. They had closed the incident report with no actions taken.
The Marine Coordinator at the wind farm location advised the vessels tracks had been mapped using AIS data and the information would be used in discussion at their periodic safety meeting.
50 metres clearance is inadequate at this speed. The action was foolhardy and does not meet the expectation of the ordinary practice of good seamanship. The risk assessment was inadequate by not fully allowing for the consequences of failure, in particular mechanical failure. Emergency stopping was described to be within the ship’s length. If true, it is highly likely the action will cause serious injury to passengers and crew. Another concern observed elsewhere, crew boats often use ‘tramlines’ to and from the wind farms without an allowance for distance to ensure the safe separation of transits.