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Old 11-09-2009, 02:25 PM   #15
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The Maltese Falcon was hit on San Francisco bay last year some time.

What was the outcome of the investigation ? ...

Link here
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Old 11-09-2009, 03:10 PM   #16
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I hear sailors claim that ships often don't keep good watch, but I find that hard to believe.
Unfortunately, my friend, I find that all too easy to believe. After having spent a very large proportion of my life on the bridge of merchant ships and thereafter coast guard cutters and warships, I never cease to be amazed at the low standards exhibited by a few rogue ships.

Years ago I was heading up the eastern seaboard of north America. We were bound for Severn Islands in Quebec when, on a clear and dark night, I observed a large ship apparantly out of NY or New Jersey heading, I suppose, towards the Straits of Gibraltar or thereabouts. This ship was on my port side. I could clearly see her starboard navigation light and she must have been able to see my port light just as clearly. As she approached I carefully watched her compass bearing. There was little change, if any, in the bearing and we were obviously on collission courses. I was keeping a good eye on her as she had not altered course to pass astern of me. By the time she was 2 NM away I had the Aldis lamp ready and when she continued to hold her course I started to signal her. In return for my signals, I got a response in very broken "ingleesh" on the VHF. "Sheep on my staboord side. Why you flash you light at me?"

Discretion being the better part of valour, there remained little else to do but put the quatermaster on the wheel, disengage the autopilot and order "starboard five". I suppose the guy (I hesitate to call him a mate) on watch on the other ship didn't have enough savvy to wonder why I did a 360 degree turn and passed astern of him.

The chances of a collission occuring are, not surprisingly, a function of traffic density as well as distace sailed. Studies give that the frequency at which collissions occur range from 0.000 000 7 per NM sailed in the open ocean to 0.000 002 per NM sailed in more densely trafficed coastal waters (Ref: Sprung, Ammerman and Koski, A DOE Evaluation of Maritime Accident Risk 1998).

All in all then, the chances of being involved in a ship collission are a lot lower than being involved in a road accident. That does not, in any way, excuse or forgive neglegent, lax or sloppy watchkeeping. It is well to remember that the requirement for watchkeepers is that they, at all times, exhibit "good seamanship"; not just seamanship but GOOD seamanship. Anything less than good seamanship is not good enough.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-09-2009, 07:27 PM   #17
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A couple things to remember about big ships.

1.there may only be one or two english speakers in the crew and these will often be the command crew.

2. crew reductions are the norm and this means that you have fewer people to cover all the work aboard the ship. its not good practice to do this but it is the practice that is current in the maritime world.

3. AIS*, Radar, plotters, GPS, and electronic charts are all supposed to be aids to navigation. but often are used as the sole navigation instruments. (i dont like this trend to glitch'y electronics but its what it is) so the person on the bridge may not actually have any training and is only following the instruments not taking a look around with the eyeballs.

4. dont assume the guy on watch knows how to change course, some try with the auto pilot and the pilot is slaved to the plotter so a course correction done on the pilot will be brought back onto the programmed course in short order.

* I have a huge problem with AIS for several reasons most have to do with the effect i have observed on my crews so i will list them here.

1. AIS gives you the name of the vessel. If its a "nice name" like Dawn Strider you will treat them diffrent than one like Prince of Nippon, this is unfortunate because you may unconsciously give the ship more leeway than you normally would.

2. AIS gives you the type of vessel, cargo, pleasure, sail, etc. I have seen perfectly competent officers allow a pleasure vessel with in 1/4 mile simply because the AIS said it was a pleasure vessel. you dont know who is in command of that boat but trusting something as impersonal as an electronic tag is just silly.

3.AIS gives you course/heading data both of which can be wrong.

4. AIS gives you speed. this can be one of the most unreliable things you can get because it can and will change. but folks believe the screen.

this goes both ways if both ships have AIS. the assumptions that you make can be the thin line between a problem and not a problem. I do sail with a full nave system but i also make sure that my watches all hand plot the positions of every thing in a 3 mile radius of my ship. no matter where in the world I am it is simply good seamanship and it is the result of dealing with problems that come up when you let folks assume the electronics are right.
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Old 11-09-2009, 08:28 PM   #18
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The points mentioned above are not really an indication of the "situpidness" of AIS but rather of the operator. You hit the nail right on the head regarding lack of training and experience. Anyone with a good measure of both would recognise the limitations of the systems he has at his disposal and take them into account and exercises caution in their use.

The bottom line is that the cruising yachtsman must, for his own sake, make his vessel as highly visible as possible and this both in terms of electronic wizardry and the old Mark 1 Eyeball. He must also be aware that there are some rogue ships out there operated on less than a shoestring, undermanned and that by incompetent and inexperienced people.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:40 PM   #19
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Having recently installed an AIS transponder on my boat S/Y Thetis I find it very helpful. "Helpful" is the operative word. It helps avoiding collisions along with radar, bearing compass, and eyes. None of them by themselves prevent a collision they just indicate the possibility assuming present speed and course for both vessels stay the same.

What really avoids collision is YOU. Armed with the information your eyes and your electronics give you, you decide on what corrective action is needed to keep a safe distance between the two vessels. I always assume that the other vessel is blind. Nevertheless I do agree with Nausikaa that your boat should be as visible as possible both to eyes and to electronics. Radar reflectors and AIS do accomplish this.
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nausikaa View Post
...

In congested waters, I am all in favour of sea traffic control. The concept has been in place on the Elbe river in Germany for at least 40 years. A series of RADAR stations are linked to a "control tower" where operators watch every movement of the ships on the river and give them continuous information regarding approaching vessels as well as their position related to the mid-line of the fairway.

...
A good example: very dence traffic, especially on the weekends! Commercial traffic and pleasure boats getting along fine. No collisions between yachts and merchant ships I can think of and the last serious accident between two merchant ships was many years ago.

The reasons for this positive situation is already named: the well functioning traffic control, clearly defined areas of fairways and the waters outside, clear rules of using these waters and a sharp lookout on both merchant ships and pleasure boats.

But the pilots help to avoid risky situations by warning early (giving sound signal according to COLREG rule 34, so that even the less experienced yachty gets out of the way befor they seriously get in trouble).

I guess, that on the recommended or traditionally used offshore routes, the traders use, they expect, that there are other collegues out there on the same track. But they might not expect, that out in the middle of nowhere a small yacht is crossing their track.

And to be honest: once we are out of the coastal waters and after we have not seen a trader for a couple hours our look out is no longer as sharp: going below to get a coffee and something to bite and ... 5 minutes are gone! And this can be alot of time when the visibility is not perfect and a modern container ship is heading towards you at high speed and you are not on his "screen", concerning expectation (slim chance that someone is sailing out here) and technically (dimming down the echoes produced by sea state).

So, coastal waters and estuaries are actually quite safe waters to sail on, as long as we stick to the rules. Offshore and ocean is onviously the bigger risk, because

- we are not expected

- we are not seen

- we believe that we are far away from commercial traffic and therefor do not perform a sharp look out.

AIS and Radar target enhancers help alot to broaden our sences.

Uwe

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Old 11-12-2009, 10:39 PM   #21
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Having spent the past 20 years developing software, I have no confidence at all in electronics. It is often good, but there is no way to prove that there are no bugs in a system. This is a fundamental weakness in software. Correctness is not provable except in trivial cases. All software ships with bugs. Almost all software ships with known bugs.

That doesn't mean it isn't good, but it does mean it isn't foolproof.
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:54 AM   #22
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That doesn't mean it isn't good, but it does mean it isn't foolproof.
Which serves to underpin my point - all the pieces of technical equipment found on a ship's bridge are AIDS to navigation only. They are not infallable.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:07 PM   #23
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Which serves to underpin my point - all the pieces of technical equipment found on a ship's bridge are AIDS to navigation only. They are not infallable.

Aye // Stephen
Problem is folks are using them as the primary nav.

it was happening in the industry when i was skippering the big boys and i doubt that it has changed.

there are folks out there that think paper charts are archaic and i dont think thats going to change.

the trend seems to be that many sailors are now relying on the computer nav systems and not learning the art of real navigation. i find it scary to be honest.
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:23 PM   #24
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i find it scary to be honest.
I have to agree with you. Unfortunately you are absolutely right

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:27 AM   #25
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Coyote,

You missed my point I think. The examples I took were "text book" examples of collissions. One does not have to go far back at all to find instances of collissions at sea. Indeed, the collission I mentioned with the KURAMA took place only earlier this year.

The last colission I know of happened just last month. Lloyds reported,

Another fairly recent incident happened in Santos, July 23 where, again according to Lloyds, the combined chemical and oil tanker Baltic Champion (23240 gt, built 2003), inbound to Santos for cargo operations, and bulk carrier Amazing Grace (25967 gt, built 1998), outbound from Santos for India with 43,000 tonnes of sugar in bulk, collided at Santos outer roads at around 1400, local time, yesterday. Both vessels sustained hull damage. There were no injuries and no cargo leakage. The incident did not affect the transit of vessels through the Santos Canal. Both vessels anchored at Santos outer roads for the necessary inspections and investigation."

Collissions happen all too frequently but fortunately they are however not as common as groundings. The assumption that yachts are more difficult than, as mentioned in the previous post, a container vessel to see on RADAR is absolutely correct. RADAR works by targets reflecting radio waves to the transmitting vessel. We see thing is much the same way. Light is reflected from objects into our eyes. Is it easier to spot a container ship with colourful boxes, each the size of a small yacht, piled five-high on deck or to see that little white boat amongst the white wavetops?

I am surprised at member twomt who stated

I would claim that AIS is anything but a stupid system nor do I understand the reference to "calling". If stupid occurs anywhere in the formula for collissions it is generally on the part of the bridge watch - or lack of it. AIS is, like the other systems at the disposal of the navigator, only and aid.

To reiterate (and give some new) the good advice:

1. Do not paint your vessel white. Instead choose a more highly visible colour. Also, have a high visibility stripe in your sails.

2. Have a good sized RADAR reflector or better, an active reflector. Yet better is to have both!

3. A RADAR reflector should have a minimum reflection equivilent of 4 sq. m. Note, this is a MINIMUM.

4. Assume that you have not been observed by vessels arround you if they have not taken early, positive action to keep out of your way, assuming that you are the "stand on" vessel after having established that risk for collission exists.

5. At night or in poor visibility, show correct, type-approved navigation lights

Aye // Stephen
How about; staying out of the shipping lanes and having a capable watch, a person at the helm is NOT considerred

to be a person on a watch.
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:06 PM   #26
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... and having a capable watch, a person at the helm is NOT considerred to be a person on a watch.
... I am sure glad that all authorities, associations and insurance companies involved in sailing and pleasure boating are not of the same opinion.

Just imagining me at the helm as my mate is taking a nap below, the coast guard comes by and does not find the person on watch!

Except on charter boats or mega yachts there is in most cases only a crew of two. This is normal and this is accepted. The man at the helm (or at the remote control of the self steering system) is the watch, sitting outside or in the deck house, observing the ship, its systems and the weather and traffic outside.

But who in the round can give some more detailed information of how the watchkeeping is done on big ships?

I have this picture: one person sitting on the helmsman seat, feet up on the desk, auto pilot engaged, looking around once in a while, sharpening his senses when the VHF or the radar alarm or the AIS sounds.

Uwe

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Old 11-20-2009, 02:47 PM   #27
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Uwe,

On a well run merchant ship you will have an officer on watch together with a seaman lookout and another seaman ready to take over from the autopilot but probably carrying out other suties when hand steering is not required. During the hours of daylight the seaman who is not lookout can do other things in the proximity of the bridge, such as painting. So, a minimum of 4 eyes at all times.

On European ships there is frequently another pair of eyes, i.e. the cadet om watch. In areas of dense trafic, the master will probably also be on the bridge or, at least, very close to it.

On warships, depending on the size of the vessel, you will typically have about 15 persons on the bridge.

But then there are the cost-cutting, convenience flagged, rogues with possibly not a sole on the brifge when far out to sea. It is all a question of priorities. Whislt the man on the street may severely criticise FOC (flag of convenience) vessels he is often the one who promotes them by not being willing to pay the extra euro or dollar for goods to be transported on well runs ships crewed by sufficient numbers of well trained seamen. We are biting our own tails here!

Aye // Stephen
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