The importance of an effective lookout is once again stipulated by The Nautical Institute’s latest Mars Report. In it, a cargo vessel collided with a fishing vessel, but just sailed on as if nothing had happened, despite the fishing vessel suffering damage.

The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

In daylight and good visibility, a 25-metre steel fishing vessel was engaged in fishing about 20 nm offshore. With fishing gear set, it was making way at about two to three knots when the master noticed a small cargo vessel approaching at about 13 knots and realised that a close quarters situation was developing.

With the cargo vessel about 2 nm away, the master of the fishing vessel attempted to call the cargo vessel, but did not receive any answer. Soon, with the distance between the vessels decreasing and no response from the cargo vessel, the fishing master realised he must take avoiding action. He put the helm hard to port and increased engine power to full ahead, even though this put the fishing gear at risk of damage.

Nonetheless, the cargo vessel’s bow hit the aft superstructure of the fishing vessel, causing damage across an area of 1.5 m2. The cargo vessel did not respond to further calls from the fishing vessel and kept its course and speed as if nothing had happened.

The subsequent investigation by authorities found the following entry in the cargo vessel’s logbook; ‘small collision with fv’.

Also read: Dutch Safety Board launches investigation into water taxi and ferry collision

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • Never leave the scene of a collision until confirmation has been received from all concerned that everything is under control and pertinent information from both vessels has been exchanged.
  • While not specified in the official report, it can be assumed that the lone watch keeper on the cargo vessel was not keeping an effective lookout for other vessels. The course and speed of the cargo vessel never changed and the watch keeper never responded to the VHF calls from the fishing vessel. A power driven vessel underway must keep clear of a vessel engaged in fishing.

Also read: How Dutch coaster Helge was salvaged after collision and crew evacuation

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202326, that are part of Report Number 368. A selection of this Mars Report will also be published in SWZ|Maritime’s July/August 2023 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published (in full) on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.

Also read: What collisions between commercial and small vessels can teach us