Oops, T-boned - Ferry ULYSSE and Container Ship CSL VIRGINIA,

It certainty adds weight in favour of autonomous ships which think for themselves and never go to sleep.

In the UK, that would have you being investigated as making a racist. coment and you would probably be prosecuted for hate crime.

However, it is probably the closest to the truth of anything so far said.

A very timely article in the latest issue of The Navigator magazine:

I’m not claiming that confusion about the status of the anchored ship provides a complete explanation.

A single piece of a 1000 piece puzzle does not contain the entire scene. A single fact in a scenario does not necessarily provide the entire explanation.

From the AIS the Ulysse attempted to pass astern when passing ahead would have been much more likely to have allowed them clear the container ship. If they knew it was anchored they should have turned to stbd. Aside from believing the VIRGINIA was underway I can’t think of a reason why the ULYSSE turned to port except ordinary panic.

Other facts may become know, perhaps deck light off, hazy, AIS not properly displayed in wheelhouse, other traffic. If each fact alone does not provide the full picture that doesn’t make it false.

Aside from this specific example there is a problem in general with this test.

Trying to test if a condition could have been a factor or not. The test being used is: can a plausible scenario be created from (implicitly) assumed facts in which the condition being tested is not a factor.

So, for example, say we have information that is might have been hazy (the reports are it was clear AFAIK but for example). Could have the haze been a factor? Common sense tells us yes, it may have made the watchstanders job a little more difficult, that combined with other factors etc, etc.

But can a (imaginary) scenario be created in which haze is not a factor, given we have no other facts? Yes of course, it’s a trivial task. So haze fails as a possible factor, contrary to common sense.

As does every single condition to be tested. Given any condition a plausible scenario can be created where that condition is not a factor.

So the test is worthless.

The ferry ‘Ulysse’ was extracted from the container ship ‘CSL Virginia’.

After 2100 local this Thursday the two vessels separated.

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To everybody but defense lawyers :frowning:



“I never saw the jug; I didn’t break it; and it was broken when I got it.”

More like <ahem> trial balloons than statements of fact.**

**I just discovered that backslash escapes <> on this platform. :slight_smile:

Screen shot from the video:

The Ulysse has just started her turn here, center line is just offset a bit from the track.

Assuming the ships are depicted correctly the Ulysse has about two ship lengths here.

The red line is an extension of the track. Had it not turned the Ulysse would have struck the Virginia about where the red line crosses through the depiction of the Virginia


The amount needed to turn to stbd is much less than what is needed to clear to port.

Be interesting to know what other traffic was about.

Not a deckie, but this is why I don’t think the ferry saw the containership til right before the collision. The ferry going to port would make sense to me if the containership was underway. This assumes that the AIS depictions are accurate.

My question is what was the anchor watch on the Virginia doing? Another ship on a collision course while you are anchored garners multiple vhf calls, calling the old man, sounding the whistle, and shining a spotlight in their wheelhouse.

Hopefully some of these things were done. Not that any of it excuses getting broadsided while at anchor.


I suppose we can now update the one about the admiral and the AB.

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It’s possible the watch on the ferry had dozed off and a whistle or the like from the VIRGINIA alerted them. How often does the BNWAS go off? Is it 10 minutes? The top speed of the ULYSSE is listed at 22 kts.

At 20 kts the ULYSSE would cover 5 miles in 15 minutes. If the radar was set at 6 mile range with an off-set, they’d be looking about 8 miles ahead.

Here’s a plausible scenario that doesn’t contradict any known facts.

The watch on the ULYSSE starts to track the VIRGINIA at about 8 miles. Alertness is low, (close to the end of the watch) they doze off. Something wakes them up, the VIRGINIA is two ship lengths dead-ahead, at 20 kts no time to evaluate, best bet with no information is pass astern, it would almost be a reflex, but it’s too late.

The reflex, with no time to evaluate should be to turn to starboard though.

Another possible scenario is that the Ulysse is on a regular known route and using auto pilot from previously used course settings.
The CSL Virginia just happens to have anchored on that course and possibly with just a starboad nav light and an anchor light showing the watch on the Ulysse did not see her, but it does not explain how the watch did not pick her up on the radar.
Just has to be sloppy procedures on the Ulysse bridge .

A lot of the discussions I saw about the USS Fitzgerald was focused on the question of how it was possible that the bridge watch did not see the Crystal. Of course it was seen, but what was seen was not understood.

There is a big gap between “seeing” something, light hitting an eyeball, and constructing a fully working mental model capable of being used to make sound decisions.

That’s why it may not necessary to explain why the bridge watch didn’t see the VIRGINIA. They may have seen it but didn’t comprehend what it meant, at least not in time.

A ship dead ahead may seem like an urgent threat, but often it’s really not. Depending on the range, course and speed, it might not really necessary to give a ship on the track much attention till it gets closer.

A lot depends on what other traffic was in the area.

If ULYSSE was taking action very late (for whatever reason) to avoid collision with an anchored vessel right ahead, it would make sense to go around the stern of the anchored vessel by a bold alteration of course to PORT in this case and, when the anchored vessel is on your STARBOARD BEAM, putting the helm hard over to STBD to avoid ULYSSE’s stern from hitting VIRGINIA. The reason being that, if you try to clear an anchored vessel by crossing ahead of her bows, the current (or tidal stream) would push ULYSSE on to the anchored vessel. By passing the anchored vessel very close on her bow, you are also running a very real risk of fouling your propeller with VIRGINIA’s anchor cable.

Happens all the time in congested anchorages around many parts of the world.

It will be interesting to know what action, if any, ULYSSE took to avoid collision with VIRGINIA.

However, from the picture-insert in your post, it seems that ULYSSE either did not see the vessel due to distraction or, never considered the possibility that the ship ahead could be at anchor. The ARPA would show the vectors if anyone on ULYSSE was looking at the radar at all. My guess(!) is that the navigating officer on the ULYSSE thought VIRGINIA to be ‘underway’ and, with that assumption, the COLREG Rule 15 would have applied, making VIRGINIA the ‘GIVE WAY’ vessel. Rule 15 stipulates the conduct of ‘two’ power-driven vessels in a crossing situation. Based on VIRGINIA’s heading relative to ULYSSE’s, if VIRGINIA were underway, she would be the ‘give way’ vessel and ULYSSE would be the stand-on vessel in the crossing situation. By Rule 17 (action by stand-on vessel) ULYSSE would have to maintain her course and speed. By the time ULYSSE was close enough to see the anchor-ball hoisted on VIRGINIA’s forecastle, it was too late for a normal action. It was then time for ULYSSE to take a drastic action to avoid the imminent collision. The inquiry will reveal if there was any evidence of that last-minute desperate action from ULYSSE.

Crossing Situation
(a) When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of
collision, the vessel which has the other on her starboard side shall keep out
of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing
ahead of the other vessel.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers, or
water specified by the Secretary, a power-driven vessel crossing a river
shall keep out of the way of a power-driven vessel ascending or descending
the river.

I am not convinced, that the ferry made a ‘last seconds’ manoeuvre to port. We do not have the different time stamps of the AIS signals, and we ignore the real position of the AIS antenna on the ferry.

Maybe, the port turn was after contact with the ‘Virginia’, the consequence of the ferry’s own momentum.

On Cape Corsica and on the Italian islands, the Navies have certainly some good radars, for the follow-up of mysterious ships and boats and for the surveillance of the TSS…

By the way, the animation from Tellarian (#14) shows the ferry having a waypoint set, straight from Genova port, to the TSS southbound entry between the islands of Corsica and Capraia. That never changed.

Now, Saturday 0200 local, a flotilla of Italian and French oil-spill-response ships works some 12 NM off Monaco.

The container vessel ‘Virginia’ did not move; she is still at anchor with an emergency tug nearby.

The ferry ‘Ulysse’ left the accident place, followed by a tug she is West of Corsica, proceeding in a southerly direction at 6 knots.
PS: Both, the ‘Ulysse’ and the Italian tug ‘Santantonio Primo’, show the destination Tunis.

Looking at the photo of the ferry, now separated. The bow is covered in oil or something like that. Together with the spill, it seems to indicate they were doubly unlucky to have hit a fuel tank.

Admitting that I am not familiar with the details of box ship design, I would have thought the fuel tanks would be close to the engine room not part way down the cargo hold?

Does anyone have any knowledge on this?