By John Southam, North P&I Club
Assessing Risks Rules are still key risk assessment tools for watch keepers
It’s Your Responsibility
• The fact that watchkeepers are responsible for their own actions; and • That they are the ones who have to make a timely decision on what to do in order to comply with the rules. The watchkeeper’s responsibility is not only to follow the COLREGs, but also to do everything necessary to avoid the risk of collision and the dangers of navigation. Rule 2 allows no excuses. In short it states that it is the watchkeeper’s responsibility to perform a risk assessment and apply control measures to remove those risks and the likelihood of them causing harm. The watchkeeper’s role in the risk assessment is to reduce the likelihood of a collision to zero by choosing the correct set of control measures appropriate to the situation. These control measures are derived from the COLREGS.
Rule 2 – Responsibility Rule 2 is a vital rule that is often misunderstood. It is different from the majority of the COLREGs because it does not tell watchkeepers what to do or when to do it. Instead, Rule 2 highlights:
Rule 5 – Lookout – Information Gathering Rule 5 is short, but it has two vital elements: • Watchkeepers must pay attention to everything, not just looking ahead out of the
n 1840 Trinity House recognized the need to formalize rules to prevent collisions occurring at sea. Over the years these regulations developed and eventually became the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, known as the COLREGS. Despite important technological developments to aid the navigator, COLREGS are still the key risk assessment tool for watch keepers. The COLREGS tell the navigator how to assess risk, when to act, and what action to take; it’s up to the navigator to interpret the rules and apply them to the real life situations they find themselves in. Sometimes things go wrong. We will look at some of the key rules cited as contributing to collisions when they occur.
bridge windows, They need to look all around the vessel, using all senses, all personnel and equipment available; and • There must always be a lookout, if weather or the situation causes concern, then more lookouts may be needed. Watchkeepers must use all of that information to assess the situation a vessel is in and the risk of collision. Watchkeepers are therefore required to gather, understand and appraise information from a range of sources; from a series of compass bearings, visual sightings and sound signals, through to using available technology such as radar, electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS), automatic identification systems (AIS) and global positioning systems (GPS). This information is the starting point of a decision-making process that should lead to the correct and timely application of the COLREGS.
Assessing the Risk Rule 7 – Risk of Collison Rule 7 states the watchkeeper must use all this information to assess the risk of October 2017 // Marine Log 35