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MAIB REPORT HIGHLIGHTS AIS SHORTCOMINGS

Thursday, March 19, 2020 

The UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has issued its report into an August 2018 collision between the UK registered container vessel 'ANL Wyong' and the Italian registered gas carrier 'King Arthur' south-east of Gibraltar.

The ships collided in darkness, dense fog and an area of heavy shipping traffic, with both vessels destined for Algeciras, Spain. ANL Wyong was stopped and waiting for a pilot as there was no berth immediately available; King Arthur was heading towards a boat transfer position near Algeciras. The report suggests that the accident happened because neither vessel appreciated the risk of collision in sufficient time to take effective avoiding action and pass at a safe distance. The investigation has highlighted risks associated with the inappropriate use of VHF radio and AIS information when assessing risk of collision. The collision occurred within a recognised vessel traffic service (VTS) area; however, the vessels were not warned of the developing risk by the shore authority responsible for traffic safety in the area.

The following safety issues were identified:

  • although both vessels were monitoring the shipping situation, neither bridge team responded effectively to the developing, hazardous situation
  • on board ANL Wyong, the officer of the watch was aware of numerous other vessels approaching, but perceived that they would all keep clear, so took no action
  • on board King Arthur, the master’s action to avoid ANL Wyong was insufficient, and collision-avoidance decisions were largely based on AIS information and VHF conversations, which were misleading and distracting
  • although the collision occurred within a designated VTS area, no action was taken ashore to warn the vessels of the risk of collision

MAIB asked for a safety recommendation to be made to the Spanish Ministry of Development to review the navigational safety arrangements for shipping traffic in the approaches to Algeciras, while a further safety recommendation has been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to propose an amendment to the IMO to review the navigation status fields in AIS, to incorporate a status for vessels underway, but not making way.

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