In this case a double decker passenger ferry was making its way in port at a speed of about 4 knots. Weather conditions were poor and visibility was restricted by thick fog to less than 100 feet. In his statement the master commented that the aft wheel house could not be seen from the forward wheel house. The vessel’s automatic fog signal was on, sounding every 90 seconds.
The vessel’s radar was originally set at 0.75 miles, and was subsequently increased to 1.5 miles. At 09:03 hrs the master observed a high speed catamaran on the radar, on a collision course off the starboard side. It was moving very fast and was at a distance of approximately 1.2 miles. On adjusting the radar back to 0.75 miles, it became apparent the catamaran was less than 0.75 miles away. The master immediately ordered the vessel full astern and blew three short blasts on the ships whistle, but there was little that could be done to avoid the collision which occurred less than a minute later. It was subsequently established that the catamaran was doing 31 knots despite the poor visibility. Three passengers from the catamaran were airlifted from the scene, one with a severed foot, the other two with reported spinal injuries. In addition 24 passengers sustained minor injuries.
The catamaran had cut across the bow of our Member’s vessel at the time of impact at an angle of 75 degrees. The port side of the catamaran was torn over approximately 22 metres. The local marine department’s report into the incident concluded that the catamaran was substantially to blame for the collision and the master was subsequently prosecuted and found guilty under rule 4 of the International Regulations for Avoiding Collisions at Sea for failing to keep a proper lookout, under rule 6, for failing to proceed at a safe speed. Our vessel received some criticism for not operating the radar at a range greater than 1.5 miles, which would have made them aware of the catamaran marginally earlier. Financial cost USD 577, 935