Who Is in Charge of Preventing a Boat Collision?

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Who is responsible for preventing a boat collision? Is it the captain or another crew member? Could we even, dear Neptune, put the responsibility on travellers in the general public?

Since the line of command must be followed first, the captains or operators of each vessel are alone responsible for carrying out this duty. It must be a person who is competent to lawfully operate the boat and is familiar with navigational rules. Regardless of the size or style of the vessel, this rule is applicable to any body of water that you are sailing in, as reported by Boating Basics Online.

The Persons Responsible for Avoiding Boat Collisions

The rules of seamanship place a strong emphasis on the value of situational awareness and familiarity with the laws of the sea, two important aspects of preventing boat mishaps.

Actually, it’s very much a given. After all, the captain is the one who has received the necessary training to operate a boat, is qualified to do so, and is licenced to do so. Additionally, he or she is the one who is aware of when it is OK to disobey the law and which precise rules to break in order to avoid an accident and save many lives. Give-way and stand-on boats are undoubtedly familiar to you. Such categorizations aren’t really applicable in this situation, nor is one type necessarily more guilty than the other based just on their position. A potential collision must be avoided at all costs by the two warships and their crews. The Chief Officer or the second-in-command takes over as captain of the ship if the captain is unable to complete his or her duties. As long as they are competent, whoever operates the boat will always be in charge of putting a PWC accident out of commission. You know, especially for large vessels, the captain is like the king or queen of his or her ship. They may be given unrestricted power, but they must also take care of the people they are in charge of. When all is said and done, the Spider-Man adage “With tremendous power comes great responsibility” could not be more true. Ability is, of course, the important factor here. They must be prepared to assume this unquestionably important task.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common boating accidents?

Did you know that two boats meeting head-on is just one among the many legal types of boating accidents?

Others include drowning, capsizing, fires, injuries, and passengers falling overboard. These facts only point to one pivotal truth: operating any watercraft is quite risky and can occasionally be life-threatening for everyone aboard.

Constant vigilance should aptly be exercised by all able persons of authority on board.

Rules to avoid collision of boats

Anyone who is responsible for keeping a sharp watch and avoiding boat collisions should have more than a cursory familiarity with rules that help prevent them. You have to be aware of the steering and sailing rules pertaining to the risks of collision, in short.

You can start with this booklet on Navigation Rules provided by the US Coast Guard: https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/navRules/navrules.pdf

Look in particular at Rule 5 regarding look-outs and, more importantly, Rule 7, which lays out the guidelines to mitigate the risk of collision. Other points worth taking note of are Rules 12, 14, 15, and 19.

What should you do to avoid colliding with another boat?

Every time two boats are operating near each other, their captains should make a habit of following these solid strategies:

  • Always be aware of the circumstance the other boat is in, especially if water and weather conditions are preventing it from correcting its course to avoid a collision.
  • Don’t delay alterations when the need arises.
  • Make a single alteration, especially one done in order to prevent collisions, and be sure it’s readily visible to the other vessel. Refrain from doing multiple successive alterations.
  • Keep a safe distance from other boats and be thorough when checking how near or far you are as the craft passes near you.

When two boats meet, who has the right of way?

You must yield the right of way if you are approaching a ship from the port (left) side. Any boat being approached from that side must yield to oncoming traffic.

You don’t necessarily need to stop if you’re the vessel that gives way. In order to safely avoid the other (stand-on) vessel, the majority of vessels veer to their starboard side.


As a result of what we’ve spoken about, the operator or present captain will always be in charge of preventing a collision between two vessels.

Without a thorough understanding of the seamanship and navigation standards, they won’t be able to carry out this obligation to a satisfactory level. It should go without saying that they should take the time to get the appropriate education and training to make sure they are capable of handling the job.

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Source: Boating Basics Online


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