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Old 30-10-2009, 16:32   #16
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mexico heading South
Boat: Ericson 39B - Senta II
Posts: 1,169
Now, the reason why I asked ...

Well, I did actually ask because I wanted the answer to the problem posed by a situation I'd hope to be smart enough to avoid.

But there was a reason for starting to wonder in the first place. There was recently an incident when a sailboat with a sleeping skipper t-boned a large bulk carrier, at night. The t-boning happened because the bulk carrier turned to starboard to avoid a collision with the sailboat to port. Looking at the AIS plots it seems pretty clear that the collision would have been avoided if the bulk carrier had turned to port instead, so why didn't s/he (rhetorical question) ? The answer is probably that he assumed that the sailboat would have a lookout while in a shipping lane and that the sailboat would change course to its starboard to avoid the collision when it got closer.

I should note here that where I think the bulk carrier went wrong was in not laying into the five short horn blasts until the skipper on the sailboat was deaf , if he didn't. Let's forget that option for a bit and just put ourselves in the shoes of the OOD of any large freighter.

What should the OOD do while transiting shipping lanes with small vessels ? Is the OOD required to assume worst case at all times and never go faster than what would allow him to stop before anyone around him could hit him no matter how they changed course ? If that is the case freight would be running very slowly as it essentially would have to play a game of keep-away from all small vessels who do not communicate and coordinate their actions with the surrounding traffic.

I always try to clearly and early signal my intentions to surrounding traffic but after this "in his shoes" exercise I'll be doing so even more and probably start getting on the VHF just to let the bulk carrier know that I will avoid him or her, rather than leaving the OOD guessing.


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