Inaccurate Situational Awareness Results in Collision



On 05 December 2015, the Maltese registered bulk carrier Maraki, and the Bahamas
registered vehicle carrier Ivory Arrow, collided in position 51° 22.2´ N 002° 08.5´ E, in a
crossing zone between Dover Strait TSS and West Hinder TSS.

Maraki was Northbound in the Dover TSS. Ivory Arrow was on her starboard bow, coming
out of the West Hinder TSS. Both vessels were in sight of one another. Radar targets were
acquired and the ARPA had indicated a close quarter situation.

Maraki altered course to starboard to keep out of Ivory Arrow’s way. Unaware
of the action taken by Maraki, Ivory Arrow altered her course to port. Subsequently, both
vessels collided. No injuries and no pollution were reported, however, both vessels sustained structural damages.


  • A close quarter situation was evident, with Maraki crossing the course of Ivory Arrow;
  • The OOW on Ivory Arrow had identified his own ship as a stand-on vessel and expected Maraki to take action;
  • The master of Maraki appeared fully aware of his obligation to keep clear. However, his actions took place only when Ivory Arrow had come within the two nautical mile range;
  • Maraki sounded no signals to indicate her manoeuvre to starboard;
  • The master on board Maraki assumed that Ivory Arrow would maintain her course;
  • The first situation assessment made by the master of Maraki must have been influenced by factors such as experience and expectations;
  • The OOW on Ivory Arrow read a CPA of two cables on his radar and ordered the helm to port, assuming that Maraki would not be taking any action as a give-way vessel and would maintain her course;
  • Ivory Arrow’s course alteration to port rather than starboard may have been due to slow moving vessels on her starboard side;
  • In the absence of a dedicated lookout, it is likely that the OOW on Ivory Arrow had inaccurate situational awareness;
  • The potential inaccuracy in situation awareness may have been exacerbated by the fact that the OOW did not benefit from team support.


The MSIU has issued one recommendation to the managers of both vessels designed to enhance navigational safety.

  • Thalkat Shipping S.A. is recommended to: 21/2016_R1 Circulate a copy of this safety investigation report on board all vessels under its management to highlight the hazards of close quarter situations.
  • Ray Car Carriers Ltd. is recommended to: 21/2016_R2 Adopt recommendation 21/2016_R1.

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Source: Transport Malta


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