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Web Alert: Case studies to improve safety at sea

08 March 2018

The Standard Club has been working with the Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) for two years to promote safety at sea and accident prevention. Last year, the CHIRP Charitable Trust was named ‘The Best Safety Service of the Year’ at the 2017 Safety at Sea Awards, an endorsement of its value to the maritime industry.

This video bulletin once again features three case studies of near misses where important lessons can be learned. These videos provide excellent material for discussion during a ship's safety committee meeting.

In the first case, a yacht heading south was closing on a vessel cross-channel. The closing vessel, thought to be a ferry, seemed to be heading north. However, the lights did not seem to match with the relative tracks of the two vessels. The ferry subsequently turned out to be a cruise liner crossing the yacht’s track a mile ahead, and heading east. However, no red light had been observed, a common issue on cruise liners that have multiple lights on the upper deck. This case demonstrates that lights are not sufficient to be sure of the relative positions between ships at night. A series of compass bearings can show if a risk of collision exists, and navigation must comply with Annex 1 of the COLREGs.

A pilot making his way to the bridge in the dark found a platform about 8 inches high had been installed on the bridge wing with a gap on two sides. The result was that his foot slipped into the gap, but also that he was positioned too high for the combing of the bridge wing – below waist height. Bridge wings, freeboard and superstructure decks should have bulwarks a minimum height of 1,000mm. This incident highlights the risk of trips at night and the importance of the regulations regarding bulwark height.

A yacht had engine trouble at the mouth of a river and due to the conditions a swell had built up. A rib with qualified crew from the yacht club attended, but the adverse conditions caused it to capsize. The coastguard was able to rescue the rib, but the yacht beached. The incident shows that good intentions are sometimes not enough, and that the right rescue organisation should be called in good time.

The bulletin is available here. Read more on the first eight bulletins in the series here.

These safety bulletins rely on reports to be submitted to CHIRP from all sectors of the maritime industry. Reports can be submitted confidentially at

The case studies and lessons learnt from submissions are published in their quarterly bulletin Maritime Feedback in both written and video form. The reports are also investigated with the ship’s owner and can be used to escalate problems to people who can make a difference, such as naval architects, classification societies and flag state authorities.