Ineffective Radio Watch & Communication Leads To Collision




On 23 December 2015, the bulk carriers Shibumi and Sam Wolf collided in the Eastbound Deep Water Route of Singapore Straits TSS. At the time of the collision, the weather was fine with visibility of up to eight nautical miles. The collision occurred shortly after Shibumi had passed Buffalo Rock Buoy and altered course to starboard in accordance with her documented voyage plan. Sam Wolf, which was on passage in the West-bound traffic lane, altered course to port and entered the Eastbound traffic lane.


The safety investigation concluded that the immediate cause of the accident was ineffective radio watch and communication between the two vessels.

Actions Taken

Following the accident, TMS Dry Ltd. has taken the following safety actions:


  • Emphasised the need for the proper implementation of bridge resource management procedures on board and the need to be fully aware of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea;
  • Highlighted the importance of all bridge officers to be aware of the maneuvering characteristics of their vessel;
  • Expressed caution that congested areas are extremely hazardous areas to navigate in, particularly with a large ship, and that masters should give careful consideration to the risks when so requested;
  • Specified that it is important to appreciate that in such areas, ships are often too close to each other so as not to provide a reasonable margin of error;
  • The importance of crew members to implement risk control measures in areas similar to Singapore where approaches involve a number of serious and fast changing conditions.



  • The direction and aspect of Shibumi appeared to be crossing the TSS and had (very likely) influenced the decisions made by Sam Wolf’s OOW;
  • In all probability, the OOW on Sam Wolf was not aware of the traffic information broadcasts by Singapore VTS, advising Shibumi’s transit in the Eastbound traffic lane;
  • Less than a mile and closing on a steady bearing, Sam Wolf altered her course to port without warning or querying the intention of Shibumi;
  • Unaware of the developments on board Sam Wolf, Shibumi altered her course to starboard to keep with her voyage plan within the Deep Water Route, but which coincided with Sam Wolf’s manoeuvre;
  • Singapore VTIS advice to Sam Wolf to keep clear of Shibumi and maintain transit in the Westbound lane was not followed up;
  • Whilst the manoeuvre by Sam Wolf may be interpreted as a manoeuvre in accordance with COLREGs rule 17(a)(ii), the alteration of course to port may have created further confusion as it was not in accordance with rule 17(c);
  • The VHF radio could have been used at an early stage to clarify uncertainty and ensure a uniform mental model of the circumstances rather than at a later stage of the dynamic process;
  • Lack of communication led to no information sharing and lack of common understanding of the prevailing context;
  • The two OOWs did not manage to communicate their respective mental models – the sharing of situation awareness;
  • Coordination, which depends on (efficient) communication between persons (the OOWs in this case) who have to control a dynamic system, had been compromised.

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Source: Transport Malta


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