Will Always be Required!
Captain Jim Wright often shares his experience and stories of Maritime lessons to be learned. There is a great deal of overlap in the challenges or harbor pilots and aircraft pilots, and we often discuss how one area could help the other. Below is a story he shared on a recent journey to Alaska and concerns for NextGen.
"We are the vessel labelled “CAPE FAIR” bound across an unregulated traffic pattern for an anchorage in Blunden Harbor. The vessel at our “8-oclock position” is a southbound tug and barge (Ocean Ranger) and the vessel shown as a small triangle just below the “440” is a northbound tug and barge. All three vessels are both transmitting and receiving AIS signals.
Upon making initial visual and AIS contact, both tugs and barges were on a “collision course” with “Cape Fairweather”. Relative to “Ocean Ranger” we were the “stand on vessel” and required to maintain course and speed. Relative to the northbound tug and barge, we were the give way vessel and required to take necessary action to avoid a collision.
We altered course to starboard and rechecked the AIS CPA solution with “Ocean Ranger” which showed a relatively close although increased CPA. Subsequent visual observations confirmed “Ocean Ranger’s” relative bearing was now changing at an acceptable rate. The end result, as shown, was that we crossed ahead of “Ocean Ranger” and astern of the northbound tug and barge with somewhat close although acceptable CPA’s.
"It occurred to me that these are the type of situations that NEXT-Gen might create for pilots.
NOTE: The above screen shot is technically known as a “special situation”. Rule 2 of the Navigation Rules basically covers this by saying:
Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, Master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case
Loosely interpreted, this means that if you are involved in a maritime accident you must have done something contrary to the Rules because collisions, allisions, groundings etc. are not typically considered to be “the ordinary practice of seamen”. This begs the question of where aviators will stand legally when faced with similar decisions."
Captain Jim Wright
Enjoy the Journey!