SAFETY | Collision bulker failed to stop

AN INQUIRY in Australia has found that watchkeeping shortcomings that caused a collision between a yacht and a bulker were exacerbated when the ship then failed to stop.
Round-the-world solo sailor Jessica Watson, 16 had been taking a catnap when her yacht Ella’s Pink Lady collided with the China Shipping Development bulker Silver Yang off Queensland in September last year.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s final report also found that Watson had failed to set her collision-alert radar properly, and her yacht had no passive radar reflector.

But Silver Yang’s second mate was not keeping a proper lookout, either, and failed to initiate contact or offer any form of aid. Then, when contacted by Watson via VHF radio, he could not be clearly understood because of poor proficiency in English, the report found.

ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan called the incident “a timely reminder that, under UN conventions, ship operators have an obligation to offer assistance immediately to other vessels following a collision”.

The bureau also drew attention to limits in the detectability of Class B AIS transmissions.


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