Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lessons Learned: A Turn for the Worse-- Part 4

A routine passage turns tragic.

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Ms. Carolyn Steele.

Findings of the Coast Guard Investigation
The Coast Guard investigation cited the failure of both vessels to determine that a risk of collision existed, as well as inadequate communication between the vessels as they approached each other in a meeting situation as factors contributing to the collision. The investigation ruled out mechanical failure and weather as possible culprits.

Lessons Learned
This was an avoidable tragedy. If commonsense precautions had been taken and well-known rules followed, a young woman’s life would not have been lost.

The following are lessons to be learned to avoid such a casualty:

  • All mariners should bear in mind that fatal accidents can and do happen in clear, calm weather; letting your guard down can be an invitation to disaster.
  • When you are on the water, make sure to use your eyes and ears because radio contact alone does not guarantee that you will avoid a vessel on collision course with you.
  • The purpose of a lookout is to detect, assess, and manage risk—most of all, a risk of collision. Night sailing with only a single helmsman/lookout on watch is an invitation to disaster, particularly if you are not using radar, or are unfamiliar with the waters.

Always keep in mind the fundamental principles of the U.S. Coast Guard International and Inland Navigation Rules.

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