MARS 186 - April 2008


MARS 200825

Collision and sinking of small craft

Official report: source: IMO Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation – 11th Session

An eight-metre pleasure craft was struck by a passing bulk carrier while anchored for the night in a shipping lane off the north east coast of Australia, with all hands on board asleep. Fortunately, there were no casualties. The collision went unnoticed by the OOW and the lookout on the bulk carrier.

Root cause/contributory factors

The available evidence indicates that a proper radar and visual lookout was maintained on the bulk carrier. There could be several possible reasons for the pleasure craft not being observed on the bulk carrier:

1. The pleasure craft presented a poor radar target;

2. The anchor light on the pleasure craft was too weak and did not comply with Colregs;

3. Reflection of moonlight from the water prevented the pleasure craft hull from being seen from the bulk carrier bridge;

4. The pleasure craft anchored in a shipping lane at night without posting a lookout.

Lessons learnt

1. Numerous collisions occur between large ships and small craft every year, resulting from the lack of a proper lookout on one or both vessels. All watchkeepers need to be aware that a small craft may not readily be sighted by radar or visually from the navigating bridge of large ships.

2. The importance of proper lookout on all vessels, large and small, (whether under way or not), cannot be overemphasised.

3. Smaller vessels should consider warning larger ships of any developing collision risk by using all available means, including light signals, sound signals and radio communication.

4. All ships including small craft, must avoid anchoring in a known shipping lane.


Staff Author