Ferry in fog?

Ubergeekian

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I'm a wee bit surprised to have seen no comment on the sad Condor ferry / fishing boat accident and in particular on this bit of the PBO report:
Ferry passenger Julian Buesnel, MD of Jersey-based chandlers Blue Water Supplies and a regular commuter on the St Malo to St Helier route, told PBO that the incident happened roughly halfway into the journey: 'I think the ferry was going close to its full speed of 40 knots,' he said, adding: 'It was thick fog but I did not hear it blowing its foghorn since soon after leaving St Malo.'​
How does proceeding at 40 knots in thick fog square with this?
19 (b) All ships shall proceed at a safe speed for the condition of visibility.​
 

Robin

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It has been commented on in the Lounge.

I don't like the idea much either but it has been a reality for years and I suspect little different from a VLCC bombing dow the English Channel at 25kts as in the Wahkuna collision incident. It is a great many years since I heard fog horns sounding routinely in fog, possibly because that would be an admission that visibility really justifies a speed reduction they don't want to make.

We have been in thick fog off Guernsey and heard Condor approaching from astern as we headed down the Little Russel, the noise is very distinctive. We had him on radar clearing us to starboard but another yacht called him on VHF to ask if they had been seen, 'affirmative' they said but then we did notice them change course on our radar... They routinely pass yachts close, close enough to throw spray in the cockpit at times as we found once between Jersey and Guernsey and don't even think about being on the Boatworks fuel pontoon when Condor is due! We once had diesel spill over our decks from a split hose probably caused we were told by it being caught in the gap between pontoon and wall when Condor had arrived a little earlier.
 

Mark-1

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I'm a wee bit surprised to have seen no comment on the sad Condor ferry / fishing boat accident and in particular on this bit of the PBO report:
Ferry passenger Julian Buesnel, MD of Jersey-based chandlers Blue Water Supplies and a regular commuter on the St Malo to St Helier route, told PBO that the incident happened roughly halfway into the journey: 'I think the ferry was going close to its full speed of 40 knots,' he said, adding: 'It was thick fog but I did not hear it blowing its foghorn since soon after leaving St Malo.'​
How does proceeding at 40 knots in thick fog square with this?
19 (b) All ships shall proceed at a safe speed for the condition of visibility.​

I haven't got time but it ought to be possible to find the Condor's track on one of the AIS websites and see exactly how fast it was going. I've only encountered the Condor at sea once in Fog. AIS showed it had slowed to 20knots but if I'd been asked I'd have estimated it was doing 40 knots from the deafening noise. We didn't see it. I am of the opinion that 20 knots was still way too fast.
 

Robin

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I haven't got time but it ought to be possible to find the Condor's track on one of the AIS websites and see exactly how fast it was going. I've only encountered the Condor at sea once in Fog. AIS showed it had slowed to 20knots but if I'd been asked I'd have estimated it was doing 40 knots from the deafening noise. We didn't see it. I am of the opinion that 20 knots was still way too fast.

IIRC in the post in the Lounge somebody had looked at the AIS track and it was travelling at around 37kts. http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthread.php?t=268114
 

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It is a great many years since I heard fog horns sounding routinely in fog, possibly because that would be an admission that visibility really justifies a speed reduction they don't want to make.

That is pretty shocking imho. If that is par for the course in your area, then surely the local clubs and RYA have taken this up with the MCA?

We don't get much fog on Scotland's west coast, but there was a fair bit of thick stuff in the Firth of Clyde when I was applying antifouling last week. Caledonian MacBrayne ferries are pretty good re consideration for other vessels, and their Arran ferry was properly using its fog horn every time it entered the bank of fog.
 
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Robin

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That is pretty shocking imho. If that is par for the course in your area, then surely the local clubs and RYA have taken this up with the MCA?

We don't get much fog on Scotland's west coast, but there was a fair bit of thick stuff in the Firth of Clyde when I was applying antifouling last week. Caledonian MacBrayne ferries are pretty good re considereation for other vessels, and their Arran ferry was properly using its fog horn every time it entered the bank of fog.

It is par for the course out in the English Channel, not just locally where the ferries actually might let off the odd toot inside the harbour.

Years ago when we were crossing regularly in the quest for proper Duty Free and pre Decca and GPS let alone yacht radar, the ships always used fog horns and it was in fact reassuring to hear these. We became quite adept at using a fog horn sound bearing like a visual compass bearing to judge if something was passing astern or ahead, albeit with tightened cheek muscles. There is a constant stream of traffic up and down The Channel as you can see on the AIS tracking sites but you hear very little when out there, unless they consider they are close enough that a toot or two might help in any subsequent enquiry.

This however is the electronic age and time and money rule, so ARPA allows them to maintain optimum speeds regardless in all visibilities it seems.

I wouldn't automatically assume the fishing boat's complete innocence in this collision either until all the facts are out although it certainly looks like that so far.
 

PeterGibbs

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It has been commented on in the Lounge.

I don't like the idea much either but it has been a reality for years and I suspect little different from a VLCC bombing dow the English Channel at 25kts as in the Wahkuna collision incident. It is a great many years since I heard fog horns sounding routinely in fog, possibly because that would be an admission that visibility really justifies a speed reduction they don't want to make.

QUOTE]

Consider also the effect on the passengers' state of mind to hear the horn sounding right over their heads every two minutes on a 4 hours Condor journey.....not conducive, one thinks! I guess the argument goes something along the lines of "Mustn't frighten the horses"

PWG
 

Blue5

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It is par for the course out in the English Channel, not just locally where the ferries actually might let off the odd toot inside the harbour.

Years ago when we were crossing regularly in the quest for proper Duty Free and pre Decca and GPS let alone yacht radar, the ships always used fog horns and it was in fact reassuring to hear these. We became quite adept at using a fog horn sound bearing like a visual compass bearing to judge if something was passing astern or ahead, albeit with tightened cheek muscles. There is a constant stream of traffic up and down The Channel as you can see on the AIS tracking sites but you hear very little when out there, unless they consider they are close enough that a toot or two might help in any subsequent enquiry.

This however is the electronic age and time and money rule, so ARPA allows them to maintain optimum speeds regardless in all visibilities it seems.

I wouldn't automatically assume the fishing boat's complete innocence in this collision either until all the facts are out although it certainly looks like that so far.

Firstly, condolences to the family of the fisherman killed.

But surely a safe speed is being able to stop in half the visible distance at the time, whatever the circumstances if the boat was not seen there was no adequate watch for the conditions at the time.
 

Robin

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Firstly, condolences to the family of the fisherman killed.

But surely a safe speed is being able to stop in half the visible distance at the time, whatever the circumstances if the boat was not seen there was no adequate watch for the conditions at the time.

I quite agree and again condolences to the family and friends of the dead fisherman.

I wasn't defending what happens at all, just explaining how it is and has been for a long time. Mind you stopping in half the visible distance with a visibility of 25 yards and a ship the size of a soccer pitch would be rather difficult to achieve.
 

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Last time I was in a pea souper 3 kn was a fairly nervous speed, and that was with throttle and helm to hand, and only 26ft of boat to worry about. Cannot imagine what it is like for a ship in these conditions. Even if they post sombody on the bows it must be touch and go at times just seeing something immediately beneath them, never mind something some distance in front. In these conditions the only safe speed according to Uber is presumably stopped.

Since fog in the channel or the western approaches is not rare, if the argument is that ships can only move where they can take sufficient action based on visual information, then there must be days when shipping must come to a complete halt. There is no safe speed if you cannot see the water beneath you.

In the real world they have to rely on radar in limited visibility, and I question whether the fishing boat would have had more of a chance at 20kn ferry speed rather than at 40kn in really dense conditions. I can understand if you have limited visibility to slow down to a point where you can also have visual, but if navigating is 'safe' in thick fog by radar, then it must also be 'safe' in limited visibility also, regardless of speed

I agree about the comment about the use of fog horn. Many yachts now brave fog as navigation with GPS is easy. Coming out of the Orwell with several yachts nearby, and the odd ship movement, the only fog horn I heard was mine.

Perhaps GPS and radar give a false sense of security.
 

Sailfree

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As an aside.

It has been calculated that with the number of accidents in training for paratroopers you will end up with statically more people on the ground if you just dropped a regiment with minimal training.

On a motorcycle you are vulnerable so is it better to travel at twice the speed so only being on the road for half the time.

In Fog is it better to have good radar and minimise time spent on the water?
 

robp

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As an aside.

It has been calculated that with the number of accidents in training for paratroopers you will end up with statically more people on the ground if you just dropped a regiment with minimal training.

On a motorcycle you are vulnerable so is it better to travel at twice the speed so only being on the road for half the time.

In Fog is it better to have good radar and minimise time spent on the water?

When I was last on the high speed ferry St Malo - St Helier - St P.P., we had fog between the Islands. I was very surprised to see 40+ knots shown on the screen for passengers in the lounge. I subsequently seem to remember reading that two crew are posted on two different frequency radar sets for the duration.

Edit: I believe that the ferry goes direct from St Helier to Poole on the North bound trip.

Condolences to the families, friends and colleagues.
 

AntarcticPilot

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The Ouzo investigation showed that relying on radar alone to detect small craft in poor visibility doesn't work reliably. There is plenty of evidence that small craft without a radar transponder may not stand out above the sea-clutter. The Ouzo report shows that radar reflectors are, in general, not very effective; even transponders may not give a good response under extreme conditions.

So, I would agree with those who suggest that the ferry was travelling too fast for safety in limited visibility, and that relying solely on radar for collision avoidance has potential flaws. Sound signals would certainly help, and if the self-loading cargo don't like it, I'd suggest that their needs come second to safety at sea.
 

Ubergeekian

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Last time I was in a pea souper 3 kn was a fairly nervous speed, and that was with throttle and helm to hand, and only 26ft of boat to worry about. Cannot imagine what it is like for a ship in these conditions.

With radar, GPS and the infallible AIS, what can possibly go wrong? Well, apart from the odd fatal accident, of course.
 
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