VTS Assisted Near Miss

Report Text:

During departure pilotage in restricted visibility the radar echoes of barges in mid-stream were concealed by overhead power cables.  Barges were on extreme edge of fog bank. Three warnings of the presence of the barges from traffic management were missed by Pilot (Warnings were not in English and were not therefore picked up by the Bridge Team).

VTS Assisted Near Miss – Report Text:

Embarked Pilot and vessel was proceeding towards the entrance.  The Pilot reported his presence on the bridge, by VHF, to VTS and there was a short conversation not in English. Full ahead was ordered and the vessel proceeded on a heading to make the entrance channel east of an island.

As the vessel was approaching the island, the stern of a large vessel was observed on the far side of the island with the bulk of the vessel being out of sight. It was soon realised that this vessel was actually lying completely across the channel, about six cables distance, as it was manoeuvring astern to her berth. The Pilot ordered ‘Stop Engine’ and ‘Full Astern’, soon after the starboard anchor was let go, followed by the port anchor as the vessel swung towards the shore of the island. The vessel eventually stopped, without any contact, about 50 metres from the visible shoreline. Fortunately the shore of the island is steep to.

The pilot said that VTS had advised him that there was one small vessel proceeding to the shipyard but had failed to mention that a large vessel was in the channel, and in the process of swinging to make a stern approach to its berth

CHIRP Comment

These reports share some common features in that the Bridge Team were not party to important communications with VTS.  The second report was sent to the Harbour Master of the port concerned and both were sent to the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA), who kindly provided CHIRP with a copy of IMO Resolution A960 – “Recommendations on Operational Procedures for Maritime Pilots Other Than Deep-Sea Pilots”, which  states at section 6.3:

When a pilot is communicating to parties external to the ship, such as vessel traffic services, tugs or linesmen and the pilot is unable to communicate in the English language or a language that can be understood on the bridge, the pilot should, as soon as practicable, explain what was said to enable the bridge personnel to monitor any subsequent actions taken by those external parties.”

IMPA added:

“All messages with navigational relevance should be translated and summarised for the Bridge Team, as necessary, in accordance with A960.  Pilots should be familiar with the Standard Marine Communication Phrases approved by IMO and using those phrases will assist in avoiding situations such as these.”