Failure to Keep a Proper and Effective Lookout Results in Collision

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Summary

On 23 June 2015, in daylight with clear visibility, the bulk carrier Jag Arnav and fast utility vessel Total Response collided about 26 NM north-west of Bunbury, Western Australia. Jag Arnav sustained minor damage and no injuries to the crew was reported. Total Response sustained structural damage to its bow and deck, and two crew members received lacerations and abrasions. Both vessels were able to resume their passage.

Finding

The ATSB found that a proper and effective lookout by all available means as required by the regulations was not being maintained on either vessel.

The investigation found that Total Response’s unqualified deckhand was performing the duties of deck watchkeeper without adequate supervision. Jag Arnav was not detected by anyone on board Total Response and consequently, no avoiding action was taken. The investigation considered it likely that the chief mate and deckhand on board Total Response were at least in a state of reduced alertness attributable to environmental factors including workload prevalent on the day.

The investigation also identified that Jag Arnav’s officer of the watch, the third officer, did not maintain an effective lookout despite various electronic aids to navigation detecting Total Response. The third officer reported visually detecting Total Response, but incorrectly assessed the vessel to be passing clear. No use was made of other available means such as radar or automatic identification system to confirm the assessment and determine risk of collision. Therefore, no action was taken to avoid collision with Total Response.

Locations of personnel in Total Response’s wheelhouse

Action Taken

The owner of Jag Arnav, the Great Eastern Shipping Company, advised that it has circulated its report into the collision to other ships that they will manage and provide additional training for navigation officers.

The company has also emphasised their requirements as laid out in its safety management system with regard to the use of radar for position fixing, acquiring observed targets, use of automatic target acquisition and the use of radar overlay on the electronic chart display and information system.

Safety message

Over the past 28 years, the ATSB or its predecessors have investigated 38 collisions between trading ships and small vessels on the Australian coast. These investigations have found that failure to keep a proper and effective lookout and to take early and effective avoiding action are recurring contributing factors to these collisions. This was again highlighted by this accident.

The detection of other vessels is the first step in assessing the risk of a collision and taking avoiding action. Systematic visual observations and active use of electronic equipment designed to detect and monitor other vessels can reduce the risk of vessels going undetected or the risk of a collision being incorrectly assessed. Early detection, monitoring and correct assessment of the risk of a collision ensures that timely and appropriate avoiding action can be taken.

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Source: Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)

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