An overtaking situation where a VLCC approaching the Malacca Straits Deep Water Route had to slow down to allow another vessel to overtake prior to entering the Deep Water Route.
What the reporter told us
Our vessel was approaching the One Fathom Bank “goalposts” from the northwest at our planned safe speed. Being a laden VLCC we were following the Deep Water Route and were a little surprised to observe the container vessel xxx, draft 12 metres approaching from astern and travelling considerably faster. Our pilot contacted him to confirm his intention to overtake, which he proceeded to do down our port side. Our vessel’s engine had to be stopped for some time to allow him to get past and clear prior to our transit of the restricted area at the “goalposts”. This was far from ideal on the final approach to a notoriously hazardous area. The lessons learned from the reporter were for ships “to keep clear of the deep-water route if not obliged to use it”.
What the Third Party told us
We share the common interest in safe navigation and your mail and report is received with thanks. We have taken the time to do an investigation and unfortunately found that the VLCC did have a valid point. We have in our SMS procedures a chapter pertaining to transit of the Malacca Strait and the need for safe speed.
1) We have re-emphasized the need to consider safe speed as well as “not to impose any risk on others, especially deep draught vessels”. Regardless of TSS rules, Colregs Rule 13 is also to be complied with.
2) We have issued a knowledge-sharing circular to our managed vessels emphasizing what is already stated in our procedures.
We regret the situation and hope that by addressing and re-emphasizing this on an individual vessel level as well as to the fleet as a whole, we will avoid similar situations in the future.
In addition to the remedial actions taken by the Third Party in this case, the Maritime Advisory Board mentioned the following:
- Upon occasion, laden VLCC’s may have to stage a carefully-timed transit due to draft and tidal restrictions – in such cases the timing of approach to the Deep-Water Route may be critical.
- The 2017 edition of the “Passage Planning Guide – Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS)” has recently been published by the Witherby Publishing Group.
Safe passage – The Straits of Malacca and Singapore (BIMCO and the SOMS Co-operative mechanism 2014) may be consulted for general advice.