On June 8, 2014 off the coast of England a dredge vessel SHOREWAY ran over and sank the 32 foot recreational sailboat ORCA resulting in the death of one of the 2 individuals on the ORCA.  Commercial vessels and recreational vessels need to safely share the same waterways. The investigation of this casualty by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) of the British Government found that the operators of both vessels in this casualty should have been more aware of each other on the water.  The SHOREWAY did not see the ORCA and the ORCA misjudged the speed of the ORCA.

MAIB has published a 2 page flyer to help recreational vessel operators better understand these challenges – including photographs showing how fast a commercial vessel can overcome their position. The flyer is at this link.

The key findings of their report are as follows:

  • “It is essential that all vessels maintain a proper lookout at all times. Had the crew of either SHOREWAY or ORCA done so, this collision could have been avoided.
  • “Leisure boat users should never assume that they have been seen by other vessels, nor should they assume that the other vessels will always take avoiding action. Due to the good visibility, the officer on watch on SHOREWAY was not using his radar and had not seen the target of ORCA that had been visible on his screen for 11 minutes before the collision.
  • “Leisure sailors need to be particularly aware of closing speeds between their own vessels and other vessels. In this case, SHOREWAY was travelling at 12.9kts but many types of vessels, including ferries, cruise ships and container ships, regularly sail at speeds over 25kts and, as a result, distances that initially appear sufficient can be reduced surprisingly quickly.”

There are lessons in this report for all mariners.

The complete MAIB report can be found at this link.

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