A sitting duck…

A subsea installation vessel was positioned 3nm east of the NE bound shipping lane in the Southern North Sea, waiting for thick fog to clear so she could resume work.  The vessel was positioned head into wind and tide to hold her position.  The officer on watch tracked a vessel proceeding up the NE lane at 18 knots.  When the vessel reached a position very close to its closest point of approach at 3nm, it altered course to starboard and headed straight for the subsea installation vessel!

The officer on watch immediatedly put the helm hard over to starboard and the engine full ahead.  The other vessel turned hard to port -- creating a close quarters situation with only about a mile between the vessels.  The installation vessel successfully executed their turn and steamed away from the other vessel on a reciprocal heading, having come within 3 cables of a collision.  Due to the fog, the other vessel was not visible at any time.

The other vessel was clearly at fault: failing to keep a lookout, altering course to port in fog with a vessel forward of the beam and proceeding at an unsafe speed in fog.  However, the skipper of the subsea installation vessel may have been unwise to position his vessel heading towards a shipping lane while stopped only 3nm outside the lane.

Source: The Nautical Institute Marine Accident Reporting Scheme

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