Post Number: 140
|Posted on Sunday, January 09, 2005 - 08:13 am: ||
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Post Number: 120
|Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:33 am: ||
Considering that we in similar circumstances would be overtaking based on the same assumptions as in the artical but would not be using signals [except perhaps the danger signal if we had the horn handy] it emphasises the importance of body language in feeling comfortable that the overtaken vessel knows we are overtaking.
Another important consideration is that we look ahead of the vessel we are passing to see what events ahead of him he might need to react to so that we can anticipate his maneuvers.
Post Number: 197
|Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:04 am: ||
Greetings All, an excerpt from Ocean Navigator
Topic: Rules of the Road Issue No.: 46 Date: 08/31/04
Title: Sounding Intent Requires a Reply
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Title: Sounding Intent Requires a Reply
By: Jim Austin
Weíll review a collision that occurred some years ago to illustrate an
important Rule. A cargo vessel proceeding in inland waters was gradually
overtaking a fishing vessel. The channel width was about 1,500 feet,
providing adequate depth for smaller vessels to navigate toward the
margins, and allowing deep-draft vessels more than sufficient room for
passage. The weather was good and daylight had arrived.
On this occasion, a fishing vessel was approximately 1.5 miles ahead of a
cargo vessel in midchannel, and since the fishing vessel was slightly to
starboard, the cargo vessel decided to pass to port. At about
three-quarters of a mile, the overtaking cargo vessel gave two short
whistle blasts to indicate its intent and came left approximately 10
degrees to start passing.
Under Inland Rules such a signal is one of intent, so it requires a reply,
either by sounding the same (one or two short) implying agreement, or
decline indicated by the danger signal. Despite hearing no reply being,
the overtaking vessel proceeded to pass. Without warning or signal, the
fishing vessel turned to port just ahead and across the bow of the
oncoming ship. The overtaking vessel stopped engines, sounded the danger
signal, backed full, sounded one short and ordered right full rudder.
When the fishing vessel was seen emerging safely off the port bow, engines
were stopped, but suddenly the fishing vessel veered to the right and back
under the bow of the oncoming vessel. Once more, the engines were backed
full, but this time collision occurred with the cargo vesselís stem
striking the fishing boat on its starboard side. The latter sunk and the
captain, sleeping below, was lost.
The situation on the fishing vessel was thus: The captain was asleep
below, and an untrained helmsman, who stated that he was unfamiliar with
the Rules, was the only person on watch. He said that no whistle was
heard, that the engines were unusually noisy, and that he was unaware of
any vessel coming up astern. At one point he left the wheel to check an
unfamiliar engine sound, and when he looked up, he saw the depth marks on
the oncoming hull, at which point he spun the wheel to starboard.
The hearing before a Coast Guard examiner determined that the cargo vessel
attempted to pass before receiving assent from the overtaken vessel. This
finding resulted in sanctions against the pilot of the cargo vessel. The
subsequent appeal centered on two aspects:
A. As the overtaken (thus stand-on) vessel, the fishing vessel was
obligated to maintain course and speed (c/s), and not to attempt to cross
the bow of the overtaking vessel.
B. The overtaking vessel should not be expected to await reply (agreement
or decline) from the vessel ahead, "since fishing vessels never do respond
to whistle signals from ocean vessels."
The officer hearing the appeal questioned whether or not the statutory
duty to maintain course and speed had come into effect -- did
stand-on/give-way status even exist? For a vessel to be required
(expected) to fulfill its obligation to maintain c/s, it would have had to
be aware that (in this case) an overtaking situation existed and that it
was in the role of the stand-on vessel with the obligations that attend
that privilege. With no whistle having been heard and no vessel seen
coming up astern, the officer hearing the appeal referenced "a line of
judicial authority holding that the duty to maintain course and speed does
not attach until the vessel ahead knows of, and has assented to, the
proposal of the vessel astern to pass."
As for not having to await a reply, the appeal officer made two points.
One, that if in fact vessels are not following the Rules (failing to
reply), that does not relieve another from following them, and that if the
former situation is the case, that should be dealt with as a separate
While recognizing that the cargo vessel did violate a statute in failing
to await a reply, the multiple failures of the fishing vessel were deemed
to be the primary causes of the collision. The finding of the examiner was
This episode prompts a review of the difference between Inland and ColRegs
requirements for passing signals. Inland maneuvering signals are those of
intent and, as such, are proposals requiring either agreement (repeating
the same signal) or non-agreement (sounding the danger signal of five
short). Under the ColRegs, they are action or rudder signals, sounded
whenever another vessel is in sight and the rudder is put over, with no
response required ("in sight" should be tempered with reason!).
One glitch in the ColRegs is the variation for narrow channels "when
overtaking can take place only if the vessel to be overtaken has to take
action to permit safe passing." In that situation, two prolonged followed
immediately by either one or two short, depending on whether the intent is
to pass to the other vesselís starboard or port side. This does require a
reply of assent (prolonged-short-prolonged-short) or denial (danger
signal). Notice that the two prolonged are essentially an intent preface
-- the one place in the ColRegs where intent is signaled and a reply is
One thing that is never done is to give a cross signal -- replying to one
blast with two, or vice versa. If that happens, confusion lurks, and the
danger signal is warranted.
-- Jim Austin
Title: Overtaking -- Part 1 (Rule13)
Title: Overtaking -- Part 2 (Rule 13)
Jim Austin, M.D. is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, later serving the
Navy as a navigator and OOD on destroyers. He earned a medical degree from
the university of Vermont, holds a 100-ton master's license with a radar
observer endorsement, and for many years has taught sailing and navigation
in Massachussets and Vermont.