Monday, November 29, 2010


Continuing the question of whether the maritime Rules of the Road need a review and revision NAUTICAL LOG thinks Rule 19 should remain unchanged, however Rule 35 needs addressing.

This is the Rule that lays down the Sound Signals in Restricted Visibility which currently are dependent on how the vessel is employed. Does this employment really matter and could these signals be made more effective by simplification and supplementation by electronic visual signals. As was suggested in '1st. of a Series' is there a way to move from 18th. Century thinking to 21st. Century thinking. NAUTICAL LOG suggested that it was unlikely in very many modern vessels that someone was actually standing out on an open Bridge listening for possible fog signals. When we did this, many years ago, the person on look-out was often deafened by the blast of their own vessel's foghorn. Also in fog sound is distorted and there is no good way to assess the direction of any foghorn from another vessel that the look-out was lucky enough to hear. Many would probably agree that the look-out was really there to fulfill the legal obligations required by Rule 5 rather than effectively contribute to the prevention of collision, being wet and thoroughly miserable did not help. One may disagree of course and it would be interesting to hear just what it was thought this 'look-out' actually contributed.

Rule 35 Sound Signals in Restricted Visibility could NAUTICAL LOG believes be greatly simplified and supplemented by electronic signalling. It is therefore suggested that Rule 35 section (a), (b) and (c) be retained. Section (d) be discarded and these vessels use (a), (b), (c) as appropriate. Section (e) could be discarded and again (a), (b), (c) used as appropriate. Section (f) is superfluous, can be discarded with (a), (b), (c) being used as appropriate. In addition to sound much more important will be a radar transponder beacon which will signal on screen the particular vessels action or non-action and the AIS signal. By doing this one would have two independent electronic signals being displayed at the Bridge Console being fully and accurately monitored by the OOW.

Now lets address vessels at anchor and vessels at aground. NAUTICAL LOG would suggest that these Sections of Rule 35 namely (g) to (j-ii) are the most ignored and abused. Again it is suggested that this entire Section of Rule 35 be discarded. Instead each Port will set aside an anchorage area divided into a dangerous cargo anchorage and a non-dangerous cargo anchorage. Vessels anchored in the Area during restricted visibility will not sound fog signals just active their electronic beacons to confirm their position in the anchorage berth assigned by Port Control. Then instead of a cacophony of conflicting foghorns, bells, gongs and whistles, which nobody in the anchorage has any idea as to meaning, each vessel would be clearly and effectively marked. In the case of a vessel calling at a Port which has no anchorage area designated then that vessel must remain underway at sea or request an anchorage berth at a nearby Port which, under international maritime law, will be required to assign such a berth if one is available.

NAUTICAL LOG looks forward to your comments on this Series most particularly those of serving seafarers who face these problems daily.

Good Watch.

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