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188.8.131.52 COLLISION AT SEA
Despite vessels being constructed to provide sufficient buoyancy if one or more of the vessel’s compartments are flooded, the sequence and impact of a collision can never be foreseen as there may be an immediate loss of sufficient buoyancy. In such circumstances, knowledge of the vessel’s Emergency Contingency Plan is vital. Survival of the crew can only be ensured if the crew is trained to such an extent that every crew member is able to carry out his/her emergency role. It cannot be emphasised enough that proper familiarisation with lifeboat exercises is in many cases vital for the survival of the crew and subsequent rescue by other vessels. The only help that may be available at sea is often the other vessel involved in the collision.
Collision drills and exercises are important as the Master and his/her officers are made aware of what can be expected in a real emergency situation. These drills include all the elements involved in making the vessel watertight.
The Master and his/her officers should always take early action to avoid a situation which may result in a collision. As a general rule the Master and his/her officers should act before the Collision Regulations apply.
The use of VHF for meeting or overtaking arrangements should be avoided if possible. If VHF is used, it should only be used after positive identification has been established. The communication must be clear, concise and timely to prevent wasting valuable time which would be needed for evasion manoeuvres. Misleading arrangements with another vessel on meeting or overtaking, such as passing against the Collision Regulations (e.g. green to green) must be avoided.