MAIB reports grounding of BEAUMONT, loss of VIXEN and collision between HYUNDAI DISCOVERY and ABX HIBISCUS

There has been a flurry of reports issued by the MAIB over the past few days, the grounding of cargo ship BEAUMONT on Cabo Negro December 2012, the foundering of the small passenger ferry VIXEN in Ardlui Marina, Loch Lomond in September 2012 and finally, the long awaited report into the collision between the ABX HIBISCUS and HYUNDAI DISCOVERY in Singapore Straits in December 2011.

In the case of the BEAUMONT, this is a simple straightforward case of a fatigued officer keeping a lone lookout and falling asleep. It is fortunate that the consequences were not more severe. Personally, I'm not in favour of comfortable chairs in wheelhouse, but I'm a dinosaur in that respect, and I guess we have to move with the times - and have the odd nap while we are about it.

In the case of the loss of the small inland waterways ferry VIXEN in the idyllic inland waterways of Scotland, aside from the licensing and survey issues which would not normally apply to us, there are lessons to be learned by crews of large yachts in operating and maintaining tenders, and of course the recurring theme of lifejackets. Again, it was fortunate that the consequences were not more severe.

Finally, at the other end of the range scale, two very large container ships ABX HIBISCUS and HYUNDAI DISCOVERY collided in poor visibility in the Singapore Straits. For what seems initially to be a straightforward collision in reduced visibility where it seems neither vessel was navigating at safe speed, this is a rather complex report and is likely to be of interest to Captains and senior yacht officers. Safe speed in squalls and showers in a traffic separation scheme - what is a safe speed how do you manage situational awareness in localised squalls? The collision regs are clear, but these ships were in sight of one another for most of the time and clearly observed on radar all the time. Do you slow down and speed up with each squall and how much? Clearly there is a frustrated response from the MAIB to the owner of ABX HIBISCUS being able to pressure the Panama Maritime Authority into not releasing information to the joint enquiry. The Captain and managers of HYUNDAI DISCOVERY come in for considerable detailed criticism, yet did not initiate the reckless manoeuvre. The observation that the Captain of HYUNDAI DISCOVERY did not take adequate action to offer assistance to the other vessel as required by UNCLOS will undoubtedly be a matter of some dispute when it would seem that VHF calls went unanswered. The use of VHF for collision avoidance is widespread but lamentable. Expect the unexpected and have in mind a decisive and effective course of action, not engage in a VHF debate. The steering and sailing rules apply to either ‘vessels in sight of one another' or ‘not in sight of on another' – there is no mention of vessels navigating in VHF range of one another, but as I said earlier, perhaps I'm a dinosaur.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all crewmembers are given an opportunity to read this and confirm so in your next HESS meeting minutes. I can be contacted at any time if anyone has any questions.