MARS 106 - August 2001

Date: 12/08/2001
Source: The Nautical Institute

MARS 200137  Rescue Boat Problems

Whilst at anchor it was intended to launch and run the rescue (MOB) boat and to carry out training of the crew in its use.  In preparation for the exercise the master tested the boat engines and controls.  He found that:

(a) The combined clutch/throttle lever spline (slotted) connection to the rotating shaft was worn away completely and only loosely held by a set screw which was gouging out the shaft.  The engine would only clutch in the ahead mode occasionally and at high engine revolutions.

(b) The boat engine’s (which had been fitted new 12 months previously) cooling system had NOT been filled with coolant - there was just a small quantity of fresh water in the header tank but the engine, the external heat exchanger and all supply pipes were empty of water due to excessively long flexible piping causing a major air lock.

(c) The boat batteries were found unable to hold sufficient charge to start the engine after just a few hours disconnected from the mains supply charger.

(d) The hydraulic steel supply pipe to the boat fall lowering winch ruptured as boat was lowered.

I leave readers to judge the probable/basic/root cause to which the incident can be attributed.


MARS  200138  Overtaking Vessel Fails to Give Way

Own ship, an LPG/C ship of 4,700 GRT was transiting the Dover Strait westbound near the South Falls Head.  We were on a course 204T to pass South Falls Head at a distance of 1.0nm off to starboard before coming round to a course 229T at a speed of 16.5 knots (CPP ready in manoeuvring).  Another vessel was on a course of 210T at 17.5kts and was observed on the port quarter to be the overtaking vessel.  His CPA was 0.1nm.

Own vessel called the overtaking vessel on the VHF clearly identifying her and asked what her intentions were.  The other vessel replied but no action was taken by her crew.  Own vessel had to take evasive action and slow down to prevent the close quarters situation.

The other vessel had plenty of sea room on her port side whereas own vessel had the Falls Bank on our starboard side.

This incident indicates that the other vessel showed inadequate appreciation of the developing close quarters situation.


Response to MARS 20060 - Oil Pollution

I have sailed as Mate and Master for many years on crude/product tankers and it is not the common practice to discharge black oil over the side after tank cleaning, be it routine or for preparation for dry dock.  I suspect the author of the above report is repeating what he has overheard in the smoke room and should not be given much credence. I came to this conclusion because of the obvious errors in the report.

1. Slops are not decanted through an Oily Water Separator but an Oil Discharge Monitor.

2. Oil floats on water, and any discharge is taken from the bottom of the tank not the top.

With the regulations and penalties today any Master or Company who condones the suggested behaviour knows if caught they will suffer very serious consequences.


The UK MAIB have issued the following report on a collision in the North Sea.  MAIB reports are available from:  1st Floor, Carlton House, Carlton Place Southampton SO15 2DZ.  Tel 023 8039 5500, Fax 023 8023 2459,

On 13 June 2000 at about 0209, the Panamanian-registered container ship MSC  Sabrina collided with the Netherlands-registered fishing vessel Concordia.  Fifteen minutes later, MSC Sabrina collided with the UK-registered refrigerated cargo ship Wintertide  at the  junction of the Vlieland and Texel TSS off the Netherlands.  The MAIB was informed of both accidents that day, and an investigation into the collision  between Wintertide and MSC Sabrina was initiated.  The collision between MSC Sabrina and Concordia, neither of which was UK-registered, has not been investigated.  Wintertide and MSC Sabrina were heading south-south-west in a traffic lane in restricted visibility; MSC Sabrina was overtaking Wintertide with a speed advantage of about 5 knots.  Concordia was on passage from Den Helder to her fishing grounds and was crossing the traffic lane from the south-east.  The collision between Wintertide and MSC Sabrina occurred after Wintertide altered course to follow her planned track into the Texel TSS which put the vessels on a collision course.

Contributory causes included:

(a) Wintertide's officer of the watch (OOW) rigidly adhering to the planned navigation track;
(b) the inaccurate radar plotting and monitoring of MSC Sabrina by Wintertide's OOW;
(c) MSC Sabrina's OOW failing to maintain a proper radar lookout;
(d) MSC Sabrina's speed, which is considered to have been inappropriate given the prevailing visibility.

Additionally, neither master was called, nor were additional lookouts posted, when the vessels entered restricted visibility.

There are several lessons to be learned from this incident regarding the actions of the Officer of the Watch on both vessels and their deviations from established procedures, company orders, and regulations.  The recommendations made aim to promote greater compliance with standing instructions.



1. MSC Sabrina and Wintertide collided at 0223 on 13 June 2000 at the junction of the Vlieland and Texel TSS.
2. Visibility reduced from five miles at 0110, to about five cables at 0200, and to less than two cables at the time of the collision.
3. Bridge manning on both vessels was not in accordance with the respective company orders when operating in restricted visibility.


1. The master had not been informed by the Officer of the watch when reduced visibility was encountered, as required by company and master's orders.
2. Company and master's orders did not specify a range of visibility at which the master was to be called.
3. The Officer of the watch was aware that MSC Sabrina was overtaking on the starboard quarter but he did not calculate when or where she would pass.
4. The Chief Officer did not utilise the 'trial manoeuvre' facility on his radar display prior to altering course.
5. The Officer of the watch altered course to 230° to follow the planned track when prompted by a GPS alarm.
6. The Officer of the watch's reliance on GPS and lack of referral to the chart may have contributed to a reluctance to deviate from the planned track.
7. The Officer of the watch did not have to alter course to 230° at 0215; there was sufficient sea room to stand on for a further four miles before the ship would have entered the traffic separation zone.
8. The chart in use, BA 1408, was not the largest scale chart available for the area and may have distorted the Officer of the watch's perception of the width of the traffic lane and safe water available.
9. The alteration to 230° put Wintertide on a collision course with MSC Sabrina.
10. The alteration to 230°, although made for navigational reasons, was imprudent and against the spirit of Rule 19 of the Collision Regulations.
11. The plotting of MSC Sabrina by the Officer of the watch on the six mile range scale, following the alteration of course to 230°, was inaccurate; the resulting Closest Points of Approach information was also inaccurate.
12. After the course alteration, the Officer of the watch assumed MSC Sabrina would pass under Wintertide's stern until she became visual on the starboard side.
13. At 12.6 knots the ship could be stopped or turned through 90° within two cables.
14. A continuous aural lookout was not maintained from the bridge wing.
15. Avoiding action was delayed while the Officer of the watch moved from the port bridge wing to the helm and changed to hand steering.
16. Avoiding action was too late to prevent a collision, but may have prevented greater damage.
17. The master did not arrive on the bridge until after the collision.

MSC Sabrina

1. The master had not been informed when visibility reduced to less than three miles or when Concordia came within a mile as required by company orders.
2. The master's night orders did not specify a minimum range at which to approach other vessels.
3. Sound signals required by Rule 35 were not started until after the collision with Wintertide.
4. An aural lookout was not maintained.
5. The collision with Concordia occurred about 14 minutes before the collision with Wintertide.
6. After the collision with Concordia, the Officer of the watch attempted to contact the fishing vessel via VHF radio but made no preparations to assist.
7. The master was called to the bridge about the same time as the collision with Concordia.
8. The ship was manoeuvred to port, then to starboard between 0209 and 0216 and was then steady on 206° until immediately prior to the collision.
9. Speed was maintained at 17.5 knots following the collision with Concordia.
10. At 17.5 knots the ship required three to four cables to turn through 90° and required about 1.3 miles to stop; the vessel could not be stopped within the distance of visibility.
11. The Officer of the watch was distracted by the collision with Concordia and failed to notice Wintertide had altered course to 230°, putting the two vessels on a collision course.
12. The master's decision not to reduce speed immediately prior to the collision was prudent.
13. Avoiding action was too late to prevent a collision but may have reduced the damage sustained to both vessels.
14. It is not known if hand steering was selected prior to taking avoiding action.


Wintertide and MSC Sabrina closed on converging courses and the actions taken by both vessels were insufficient to prevent a collision.


1 General

(a) Neither master was made aware of the reduced visibility as required by company orders.
(b) Neither bridge was manned as required by company orders.

2 Wintertide

(a) The alteration to 230° was made to follow the planned track and without due consideration for MSC Sabrina overtaking on the starboard quarter.
(b) Following the alteration, the plotting of MSC Sabrina by radar on a six-mile range scale was inaccurate.  The resulting information led the OOW to incorrectly assume MSC Sabrina would pass under the stern.
(c) The lookout was not instructed specifically to keep a lookout astern.

3 MSC Sabrina

(a) A proper radar lookout was not maintained; the OOW was distracted by the collision with Concordia and did not detect that Wintertide had altered course and was on a steady bearing.
(b) A speed of 17.5 knots was not a safe speed in the prevailing visibility.  It was too fast to enable sufficient avoiding action to be taken, when the risk of collision became apparent.
(c) Had MSC Sabrina been making sound signals, they might have been heard by Wintertide's OOW, and might have prompted avoiding action to be taken sooner.
(d) An aural lookout, which may have alerted the bridge team to Wintertide's close proximity sooner, was not maintained.
MARS  200139  IMO Cargo Securing Manual Error

In his letter published in SEAWAYS in June 2001, John R Knott, Author, “Lashing and Securing of Deck Cargoes”, contended that the expression in Section 5 of the CSS Code giving the expression CS = MSL/1.5 was in the wrong place and should be moved and re-numbered as 7.2.4.  He suggested that a Notice or Amendment should be issued to explain this.  He has now expanded on his letter with the following contribution.

The IMO Cargo Securing Manual

Those of you who have been following the correspondence relating to the above expression and all others involved in the lashing and securing of cargoes and the approval of the IMO Cargo Securing Manuals (CSM), should note that Section 5 of the 1994/1995 Amendments to the CSS Code, as now included in CSM is in the wrong place.  To date, the only official response I have received to the foregoing correction and suggested Notice/Amendment is from the United Kingdom MCA who say, and here I condense it:

“that they agree that the content and purpose of paragraph 5 is unclear, but the MCA are unable to divert any resources to investigate the matter”.

Does this mean that they – and presumably other administrations – will continue to endorse and approve Cargo securing Manuals with the very misleading error uncorrected?


To continue with the theme of cargo securing I am pleased to publish the following item from the Britannia Steam Ship Insurance Association “Risk Watch”.

Securing of MAFI Trailers

Our attention has been drawn to problems faced by some members operating Ro-Ro vessels during the winter months and in particular the difficulty of adequately securing heavy MAFI trailers and other roll-on/roll-off cargo.  We are grateful to BMT Murray Fenton Limited for the following advice on the use of webbing slings and chains.

Webbing Slings

Webbing, in general, is manufactured from impregnated woven polyester fibre and therefore has stretch capabilities much greater than wire rope.  It is supplied in reels and may be easily cut to the required length.  The webbing is generally colour-coded and additionally carries a thread identification system.  For instance, orange coloured webbing may carry 3, 4, 6 etc. black threads running through the length of the webbing on each side; indicating 3 tonnes, 4 tonnes, and 6 tonnes breaking loads respectively.
Webbing should not be used without clearly confirming its nature, breaking load and suitability, which should be clear form the manufacturer’s literature.  Webbing is often used in a loop or bight with a ratchet hand tensioner within the loop or bight.  Ratchet hand tensioners are often rated at 10,000lb (4.536 tonnes) breaking load and it is this breaking load which needs to be considered when calculating the number of lashings to be used, rather than simply doubling the breaking load of the webbing used because of the fact that a loop or bight is being used.

NOTE — The formula below is acceptable for below deck securing but it may be more appropriate to multiply the cargo weight by 3 where the cargo is to be stowed on the weather deck.  The manufacturer’s recommended formula will ordinarily be;

Cargo weight (tonnes) x 2  = number of lashings req’d

Additionaly, the following points should be borne in mind:-

(a) Unsupported lengths of webbing should be kept as short as possible.

(b) Always use protective sleeves between webbing and abrasion points/areas.

(c) Tension on a hand ratchet can be obtained easily up to 0.45 tonnes and then, with increasing difficulty, up to a maximum of 0.60 tonnes.  A spanner or bar must never be used to tighten a ratchet hand tensioner as a recoil could seriously injure the user.

(d) Keep webbing away from acids and alkalis and ensure that the webbing is never used to secure drums or packages of corrosive materials or chemicals whose adverse effect unknown.

(e) Inspect all webbing frequently and, if re-used, ensure that all lenghts are free from defects and degradation.

(f) Never use webbing for securing ISO Freight Containers.


Where chain lashings are used, they tend to be supplied in precise lengths already fitted with terminal points and tightening devices.  The advantage of using chain in certain circumstances arises form the fact that, under the normal loads for which it is designed, it will not stretch.  Thus, if chain lashings are set tight before the voyage and the cargo neither settles nor moves, there is no normal loading situation which will cause the chain to lose its tautness.  Hence, its widespread use in the securing of vehicle trailers.  In general however, chains tend to be awkward to handle, tiresome to rig and difficult to cut to length.  For general purposes it is used most effectively in relatively short lengths in conjunction with, and as part of, lashings otherwise composed of wire or webbing.  The table below gives some data relevant to the strengths and sizes of chain used for lashing purposes.

Chain generally has a proof load which is two thirds of the breaking load and a safe working load which is one half of the proof load.

It is the safe working load which must be the prime governing factor when determining appropriate securing arrangements.

Importantly, where chain is used in conjunction with shackles, turnbuckles, webbing or wire it is important to bear in mind that each lashing in the overall system will be no stronger than its weakest component.

More reports are always needed.  If you have experienced any incident which you think may be of interest to others please send details, including your name and a contact address, to:

Captain R Beedel FNI  17 Estuary Drive  Felixstowe  Suffolk  IP11  9TL  U K
Email address –  Fax Bureau +44 (0)1394 282435

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