Close Encounter with a Dredger
0750 Vessel was on course 012 deg and steaming 6.5 knots in approach to Pilot boarding area. Sighted and tracked the dredger on bearing 014 deg x 2.35’ off. Approximate course of the dredger was 250 deg, speed 2 knots.
0751 Master ordered Half Ahead and altered course to 020 deg.
0759 Dredger bore 006 deg x 0.7’ off and started turning hard to port to return to her opposite course.
Master ordered engine to Stop. Contacted the dredger but she didn’t respond. Master sounded the air horn to alert the dredger.
0801 Master ordered D/S Astern & Slow Astern. Vessel’s heading was 025 deg with minimum headway.
0802 Ordered Full Astern engine. Sternway was 2 knots at the moment.
0809 Ordered to stop her engine. Vessel’s heading was 065.
0812 Altered course to port to steer 358 with the aid of the bow thruster and proceeded to Pilot boarding area. The dredger continued on her intention and passed about 4 cables on the bow.
The dredger is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre. She’s on approximately SW’ly course so that’s why I altered course to starboard to keep clear of her, owing to her state of navigation and have a minimum CPA of 0.7 miles.
Her action in altering course to north-easterly with a huge vessel close on her port side at about 6.5 cables off, does not give her the privilege based on her status to do whatever she wants on situation such as what happened. She can keep on her course or even stop.
She didn’t even bother to inform or advice her intention of her sudden alteration.
She did, however, sent an AIS message to me after I reported the incident to VTS which makes it to say that she is indeed capable of communicating in one way or another, but didn’t do so.
This incident was brought to the attention of the port operator with the master’s consent and they responded as follows:
“Please be advised that I have replayed the radar and VHF tapes of the near-miss reported to you….
The dredger was dredging in a defined dredge area (charted) and was (I am advised) displaying the correct lights and shapes for this activity.
Having reviewed the tapes the vessels got no closer than 4 cables apart at any time and in the absence of further evidence I would not intend to investigate this report any further.”
The Maritime Advisory Board nevertheless considers vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre should be navigated with a particular awareness of their potential impact on other vessels and not rely entirely on their status. This would involve, as a matter of courtesy at least, keeping other traffic advised of their movements when necessary and attempting to anticipate difficulties, rather than prompting them.