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Old 30-04-2017, 16:04   #1
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The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

This horrific collision makes for harrowing -- and maybe instructive reading:

The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Incident - Professional Mariner - March 2008

It took place at a spot where two TSS's intersect at right angles about 20 miles North of Dunkirk -- a piece of water I have transited a number of times.

Kariba was proceeding W in the Westhinder branch of the TSS when it determined a risk of collision to exist with the Clary, proceeding N. Stood on at first, then decided that Clary was not taking adequate action, and turned to port. But at that moment, Tricolor was overtaking, and Kariba smashed into the Tricolor's port side. Tricolor, a large car carrier, sank with almost 3000 BMW's and Saabs. Miraculously, no one was killed.

What a clusterfumble. Why did Clary fail to maneuver? Why didn't Kariba see Tricolor? Why was Tricolor passing just at the intersection of the TSS's, and all the more, since the bridge could see the developing situation with Clary? It was night time and fog, but all vessels had radar.

To add more intrigue, Clary not only did not stop to render assistance, but falsified her logs. After the sinking, two different vessels collided with the sunken hull of Tricolor.

Good God. There but for the grace of God. Collision avoidance is a much more serious business, than many of us realize.
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Old 30-04-2017, 16:46   #2
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

Yep. interesting reading. And decision. Perhaps I have the diagram wrong, but if I read this correctly, the Clary was approaching the other two from Port, and therefore the giveway vessel. She intended to make a turn to stb to pass behind, but left this call very late due to the boundaries of the TSS. Kariba made an emergency turn (also to stb?), colliding with Tricolor.
All vessels were aware of the others positions. Seems to me that the decision on Kariba to turn was possibly understandable, and that the Tricolor was passing at an unsafe time - overtaking vessel failing to keep clear.
Or are there special rules in the TSS??
Your right though, a cluster %$#^. :-(
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:12   #3
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
Yep. interesting reading. And decision. Perhaps I have the diagram wrong, but if I read this correctly, the Clary was approaching the other two from Port, and therefore the giveway vessel. She intended to make a turn to stb to pass behind, but left this call very late due to the boundaries of the TSS. Kariba made an emergency turn (also to stb?), colliding with Tricolor.
All vessels were aware of the others positions. Seems to me that the decision on Kariba to turn was possibly understandable, and that the Tricolor was passing at an unsafe time - overtaking vessel failing to keep clear.
Or are there special rules in the TSS??
Your right though, a cluster %$#^. :-(
You read it exactly right. Clary was the give way vessel and should have altered course earlier so that Kariba could carry on holding course and speed. Clary should have seen Tricolor and considered Tricolor as well, and should have anticipated that Kariba could have trouble maneuvering because Tricolor was passing.

So Kariba had tunnel vision and did not consider that other vessels were nearby, and turned to starboard to open the CPA with Clary, which would have been the right maneuver if there were no other vessels involved.

But another right maneuver would have been to take way off, and this would not have put Kariba on a collision course with Tricolor (at least).


Of course taking way off (like the turn to stb) would put Kariba in conflict with any turn to stb of Clary, or Clary taking way off. THIS is why it is so important to follow the order of maneuvering established by the Rules -- standing on when it's required.


Clary explained they didn't maneuver because of the constraints of the channel, but this is bullocks -- they could have taken way off if they didn't have room for a stb turn. I also find it absolutely incredible that they would fail to stop and render assistance with another vessel sinking. And the falsification of the log! This was DECEMBER in the North Sea, for God's sake! The other sailors would die within minutes of being in the water. It's a miracle no one was killed.
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:39   #4
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

Yep, agreed. Pretty poor performance from professional mariners! I'd expect better from a competent yachtsman :-)
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:11   #5
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
Yep, agreed. Pretty poor performance from professional mariners! I'd expect better from a competent yachtsman :-)
There but for the Grace of God . . . .

I don't have such a high opinion of anyone's collision avoidance skills, including my own. It's an art. It's rarely tested because the sea is so big and we so rarely get into real situations. So we sail along fat dumb and happy, thinking we are experts, but I wonder whether any of us would actually do better than that in the same circumstances.

It's why I try to think about it and understand it as much as I can. It's why real cases are so interesting.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:29   #6
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

Pretty damn hard to take way off any of those big ships in any meaningful timescale from an English channel perspective! Not to mention the issues you would potentially cause to for the engineering department when you suddenly pulled back the sticks while full away on passage.

Taking a big ship though those busy english channel TSS's sometimes made me think of playing chess, you had to think many moves ahead. Very nerve wracking stuff at times, especially after a month or so deep sea coming around the horn from NZ... The Mallacca straits where another very nasty area, but more due to the sandbanks and the small wooden fishing boats with no lights popping up all over the place.

The worst thing about the English channel and North sea is the crossing traffic and the very high traffic densities.

I will have a look at the report. Sounds interesting. Prehaps might make a good simulator colregs exercise...
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:42   #7
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

On the upside, that's 3000 fewer BMW and SAAB drivers on the road. Every cloud has a silver lining.
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Old 01-05-2017, 05:03   #8
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

I am supprized by the courts findings re rule 13 and 16, as those rules should only apply to vessels in sight of one another. This was strictly a rule 19 scenario, section B part II didn't apply until the last minute when the ships saw each other.

I wouldn't be supprized to find the captain of the container ship had just been woken up as per his standing orders and didn't have a full appreciation of the situation, so he didnt realise tricolor was so close. Ive been in a similar situation once, luckily there was room for us to swing to stb, just... But I swear our captain got a hell of a fright when he saw the bow of the overtaking ship so close.

Since those ships should have had Voyage Data Recorders they should have a lot of info on the accident in a report somewhere.

The biggest shemozel award for absolute incompetence on a grand scale goes to the to the USS porter, closely followed by the HMS Southhampton. There is a fantastic bridge recording from the Porter floating about somewhere on Gcaptain. It makes for an interesting case study in how not to manage a bridge.

http://gcaptain.com/intense-bridge-conversation-porter/

Edit, here it is. Well worth a listen.
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Old 04-05-2017, 14:56   #9
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

I talked to a couple of the counsel involved in the NYC trial. Neither ship had VDR installed yet. the objective info came from the recording of shore radar at Dunkirk.

Fault was solely on Kariba at first trial; the appeals court reversed, sent it back for reconsideration of fault of all three, and the same judge split up the fault--largest portion of fault still on Kariba, but contributory fault on both the other vessels this time. Clary's watch mate hurt his vessel's cause considerably by getting caught lying about being alone on the bridge, and in silently skedaddling off to the north without even calling to see if the two colliding ships were all right.

I was surprised to learn that none if them called, or even attempted to call, the other on VHF. Radio comms in fog would be more of an accepted practice in the US, but the UK authorities seem to frown on radio use in collision avoidance, thinking it bollixes things up due to language/accent, and confusion over who is calling, and to what vessel-type misunderstandings. But now with AIS, and ship names in your chart overlay, I would think the risk of misidentification of VHS broadcasts is almost nil.
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Old 05-05-2017, 00:01   #10
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

I cant find an offical incident report? I am sure Ive studied it before sometime, probably in the last reval course.. A few snippets of info online jogged a few grey cells and some of the details seem to make sense. I think Kariba had just fitted a new ARPA and there was some confusion with the bridge team about its use. If so this would explain there gross misjudgment. Prehaps it was confusion over true vs relative vectors, or poor use of the trial manuver tools?

The apportionment of blame is interesting and slightly alarming to me. Something like 17% and 20% to the clary and tricolor and 63% to the kariba. Given that the clary didn't actually colide with any vessel, and the tricolor was overtaking at a reasonable distance (by TSS standards anyway) and would have been fine if kariba had played the game correctly, infact clary was about to alter course to stb and if kariba had held her course the whole mess would have been avoided.

The upshot for us is that potentially we could be liable in court if our actions on a yacht contribute to a collision between two ships, even though we were well clear, and felt at no risk of collision ourselves.

Most of the captains I sailed under required us to maintain a 2 mile CPA offshore in open water but usually relaxed this to a 1 mile CPA in busy TSS's or heavy traffic. Yachts are usually happy with much less and can make ships quite nervous.

The normal way we would have probably dealt with this if we were on kariba would be to have shuffled over towards the tricolor slowly, giving them adequate time to alter to stb (and forcing them to..).

We were pretty much forbidden to use the VHF for collision avoidance for very good reason. In heavy traffic I still feel its a recipe for problems given the language barriers. AIS changes things slightly, but at any rate you are still gpimg to have to follow the rules anyway. The average merchant ship doesn't have the manpower on the bridge to be dealing with lots of radio chatter when stuff is allready getting very full on with navigation and multiple ship avoidance. Pretty quickly the busy lanes would end up qith non stop collision avoidance talk. Reminds me of the ridiculous situation you hear anytime you end up near a convoy of american warships cacking their collective pants and making calls every 2 minutes on vhf 16 to every ship in a 30 mile range because there is an unknown merchant ship 15 miles away with unknown intentions. Very distracting, but quite amusing listening to the poor sod on the warship getting more and more stressed because the ship 15 miles away isn't responding...
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Old 05-05-2017, 07:27   #11
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

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. . . Most of the captains I sailed under required us to maintain a 2 mile CPA offshore in open water but usually relaxed this to a 1 mile CPA in busy TSS's or heavy traffic. Yachts are usually happy with much less and can make ships quite nervous. .
Serious thread drift, but yachties crossing with ships, really need to understand the distance frames of references used on ships.

Standard CPA in the English Channel, and probably many other busy places, is 1 mile. If you are set up to cross with a ship at less than 1 mile CPA, you are likely to be causing big problems on the bridge of that ship, because it will be against his standing orders to cross that close.

I might shave that a bit crossing behind, but never if crossing ahead!
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Old 05-05-2017, 08:01   #12
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

I take the point about VHF becoming "too much" if everyone's yakking and bridge is shorthanded, or just overtaxed.

But this was English Channel in fog. Maneuvering whistle (Kariba coming stbd) will blend into everyone's fog signals, so largely useless. Bridge should be double-Mated, huh? On all three ships, with extra mate on radio. Yeah, I know "should" is a big word but hell, you have a 3-vessel "situation" and no one speaks up? And we are all making what, 16 knots or so? Seems that latter is what deprives Mates of time to use radio effectively.

I suppose we can look at many collisions or near-misses caused in part by radio distraction or confusion, but I tend to think that "in general" more info is better than less, at least up to the point of task saturation but not beyond (hard to know that point, true). But nowadays that "unknown merchant ship" has a name, in big letters on your echart or ARPA. That has to reduce the "you calling me?" extra chatter clutter.
Will it reduce it to a workable level, with the Korean mate calling the Filipino mate? I don't know, but suspect more radio use may be the way of the future in these Kariba-type scenarios.
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Old 05-05-2017, 08:50   #13
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Re: The Tricolor/Kariba/Clary Collision of 2002 -- Clusterfumble in the North Sea

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I take the point about VHF becoming "too much" if everyone's yakking and bridge is shorthanded, or just overtaxed.

But this was English Channel in fog. Maneuvering whistle (Kariba coming stbd) will blend into everyone's fog signals, so largely useless. Bridge should be double-Mated, huh? On all three ships, with extra mate on radio. Yeah, I know "should" is a big word but hell, you have a 3-vessel "situation" and no one speaks up? And we are all making what, 16 knots or so? Seems that latter is what deprives Mates of time to use radio effectively.

I suppose we can look at many collisions or near-misses caused in part by radio distraction or confusion, but I tend to think that "in general" more info is better than less, at least up to the point of task saturation but not beyond (hard to know that point, true). But nowadays that "unknown merchant ship" has a name, in big letters on your echart or ARPA. That has to reduce the "you calling me?" extra chatter clutter.
Will it reduce it to a workable level, with the Korean mate calling the Filipino mate? I don't know, but suspect more radio use may be the way of the future in these Kariba-type scenarios.
Point of order -- the collision did not take place in the English Channel, but rather in the North Sea, somewhere North of Dunkirk.


Concerning the use of VHF in collision avoidance, refer to the MCA's Marine Guidance Note 167 on the subject, and this really good article on it:

Law & Sea | Use of VHF in Collision Avoidance


AIS greatly reduces the risks in using VHF, but radio comms are not substitute for following the rules.

In this case, had Kariba called Clary to ask about her intentions, the accident might not have happened. On the other hand, doing so during a rapidly developing situation might have been a dangerous distraction. Kariba should have been aware of Tricolor's presence and I think that was the main cause of the accident.
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