VHF confusion and fatigue led to Dover Straits collision

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Sea Frontier alongside Huayang Endeavour

APRIL 27, 2018 — The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch has published its report on a July 1, 2017 Dover Straits collision betwee two Hong Kong registered vessels, the bulk carrier Huayang Endeavour and the oil tanker Seafrontier. Both vessels were damaged in the collision, but were able to proceed to nearby ports for damage assessment.

Huayang Endeavour sustained damage to the hull plating on the starboard side of the bow, with penetrations into the forecastle store and forward void space. The starboard hull plating was indented along its entire length.

Seafrontier suffered significant damage to the port side accommodation, which was damaged over five decks. The port rescue boat and davit were extensively damaged, rendering them unusable, and one set of external stairs was totally removed. The internal structure was significantly damaged and it was fortunate that there were no injuries or pollution.

The MAIB investigation identified that a Very High Frequency (VHF) radio conversation between the two vessels had resulted in the two bridge teams holding conflicting views as to what had been agreed regarding Huayang Endeavour overtaking Seafrontier. Subsequently, Seafrontier’s bridge team did not check for sea room astern before altering course, leading to a close quarter situation between the two vessels.

In addition, Seafrontier’s master had been present on the bridge for over 14 hours and was probably suffering from fatigue, which was likely to have had an adverse effect on his decision making.

Safety lessons Seafrontier’s master was operating within his maximum permitted working hours however he was probably experiencing fatigue which resulted in his decision making and reaction times being affected

Huayang Endeavour’s bridge team did not complete effective long-range scanning as required by COLREG’s

The use of VHF to resolve the situation was inappropriate as it did not allow sufficient time for effective action to be take, the language used was not precise or clear and it did not result in a shared plan

Seafrontier’s bridge team did not monitor Huayang Endeavour’s maneuvers after the VHF conversation and as they did not check for sea room before altering course, were unaware of the bulk carriers actual position


Following its internal investigation Huayang Endeavour’s manager has amended its procedures for the use of VHF for collision avoidance, and promulgated the lessons learned from this accident to its fleet. The manager of Seafrontier, has also completed an internal investigation, and has taken a number of steps to train its personnel in bridge and crew resource management, review its procedures, and promulgated the lessons from this accident to its fleet.

In light of the actions already taken, no recommendations have been made.

Read the report HERE


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