No Effective Lookout Leads Collision Of Ships

Credit: Tiago Perestrelo/Unsplash


A 6,000 gt general cargo vessel had collided with a fishing vessel in restricted visibility. The fishing boat sank and only two of its seven crew were able to be rescued. The remaining five crew members are missing, and presumed dead.

The crew of the cargo ship launched a lifeboat and were able to pick up two of the fishing boat crew, but the lifeboat propeller then became entangled in fishing nets floating in the water. The crew launched a second lifeboat but the engine would not start so further rescue attempts were not possible.


Both vessels had operational radar but neither crew were using it to keep a proper lookout. Neither vessel was sounding a fog signal nor did they have a dedicated lookout.

The general cargo vessel was at full speed and did not have its engine ready for immediate manoeuvring. The crew were not well-practised in techniques for retrieving persons from the water and the 

rescue attempts were constrained by the fact that some of the rescue craft was not in a good state of readiness and not in a good state of repair.

Lesson Learnt 

  • If crew members end up in the water due to an accident their chances of survival will depend on the speed of the crew response, and how well the response has been planned.
  • Survival craft and equipment must be in a state of readiness and in good working order if it is going to be effective in saving lives.
  • When a vessel sinks or capsizes flotsam and debris are likely to be floating in the water, particularly when a fishing boat sinks because it almost always has nets and lines on deck that can float free and hinder rescue attempts.

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Source: cdn.imo