While standing by a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit, my offshore support vessel was steaming slowly (dodging) approximately North at around 2.5 knots. At the change of watch at 0900, a tanker of approximately 20,000 tonnes was noted steaming at approximately 14 knots on a heading of roughly south east which would have taken the vessel directly through the position of the rig. A radar plot was commenced and the actions of the tanker noted. Through a succession of small alterations of course to port, the tanker increased her CPA with the rig but consequently put her on a collision course with my vessel. The radar plot was maintained until the tanker was at a distance of 8 cables with a Closest Point of Approach (CPA) of 0.03 miles. I deemed that the tanker was taking no appreciable efforts to avoid collision and altered my course to starboard. The tanker then made a large alteration of course to port and I continued to turn under increased power until the tanker had passed clear under my stern and continued to turn under reduced power until I had made a round turn and the risk of collision had gone. Up to this time the tanker had made a succession of small alterations which made little difference to the CPA and did not reduce the risk of collision.
This report was referred to the manager of the tanker. (As per our standard practice, the identity of the reporter or his vessel was not disclosed). A comprehensive response from the manager was subsequently received along with a report from the Master of the tanker which corresponded with the reporter’s account of the events. In summary, a junior officer had the con; the Master was on the bridge but was engaged in administrative/communication matters. When he happened to take a break from these, he saw the offshore vessel close by, took over the con and made a large alteration to port.
The manager advised that they had identified the following failures:
- Lack of bridge team management,
- Failure to warn the Master,
- Poor judgment and coordination,
- Inadequate major and high-potential accidents/incident knowledge,
- Failure to follow the rules (Company’s related navigational procedures and Master’s bridge orders).
The manager further advised that training has been conducted by the Master for all deck officers regarding the Company’s safe navigation procedure in congested water, separation zone areas, coastal and open sea areas. The case will be circulated to all fleet vessels for their knowledge and for necessary corrective actions.
Furthermore, the manager is arranging training for all officers and the Master on board this tanker when they next come to the office.
CHIRP is encouraged by the action taken. The reporter on the offshore support vessel acted responsibly in bringing the matter to our attention. The manager acted promptly in following up the report with the Master. The Master appears to have been open in his response to the manager. The manager’s response appears to be positive in applying remedial action on that ship and promulgating it across his fleet.
We do make the additional comments that:
- The vessel’s passage plan should have taken account of the position of the rig.
- Masters need to ensure that their presence on the bridge, whilst carrying out other tasks, does not reduce the alertness of the watch-keeper to the safe navigation of the vessel.