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Don’t let your guard down. Observe the approaching vessel and know when to take action.

A stand on vessel is obliged to take ‘escape’ action to avoid a collision under Rule 17(b) of the Collision Regulations, but when should this be done? The Nautical Institute’s Managing Collision Avoidance at Sea (1st Ed., 2017) recommends the amount of time it takes to travel six ship lengths, which, as an example translates to the time of 3 minutes to the closest point of approach (TCPA) for a ship of 250 mtrs in length proceeding at 16 knots. However, that may be too close for comfort. Earlier action by the stand on vessel is permitted by Rule 17(a)(ii) and navigators are required to observe the approaching give way vessel closely and take early action to avoid a close quarter situation.

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