Over-reliance on AIS a factor in Dover Strait collision

Rickmers Dubai Rickmers Dubai

OCTOBER 23, 2014 — A collision between a multi-purpose cargo ship an unmanned crane barge under tow in the Dover Strait happened in part because the officer alone on the bridge of the cargo ship, the Rickmers Dubai, was relying solely on AIS information.

In a report released today, the U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch says that the incident occurred January 11 when the Rickmers Dubai collided with the crane barge Walcon Wizard which was being towed by the tug Kingston in the south-west traffic lane of the Dover Strait TSS. The accident occurred as Rickmers Dubai was overtaking the tug and its tow.

Immediately following the collision, the towline caught on Rickmers Dubai and Kingston was towed stern-first through the water until the towline ran free from its tow winch. Walcon Wizard was badly damaged and Rickmers Dubai's hull was punctured above the waterline. The hydraulic system for the tow winch on board Kingston was also damaged. There were no injuries and there was no pollution.

The report found that:

Rickmers Dubai's OOW was alone on the bridge and he did not see Walcon Wizard. He did not keep a visual lookout or monitor the radar. Instead, he relied solely on AIS information for collision avoidance, which neither Kingston nor Walcon Wizard were transmitting.

The OOW was relatively inactive throughout his watch and did not take note of safety broadcasts issued by Dover Coastguard which included information regarding the position and movement of Kingston and its tow.

The towline secured to the winch on board Kingston could not be released from the wheelhouse, highlighting ambiguities in the regulatory requirements for the release of towlines.

Read the MAIB report HERE

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