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


the container ships that I sailed on years ago the fuel tanks were situated all along the hull, number one being just aft of the collision bulkhead.



I suppose it helps to even out trim when tanks are full.


It also reduces stresses on the hull girder as weight is distributed more evenly particularly on ballast legs.


Here is a screen shot just after impact.


It closely matches the relative position of the ship in this photo:


The AIS data should include the location of the antenna. The Ulysse AIS shows a house forward, the VIRGINIA, the house aft.


My understanding is that it depends on how much and what kind of experience the person has.

In an emergency a person is going to revert to behavior that is so well learned that it is intuitive. So in extremis a ship pilot with a lot of experience in close quarters situations will not behave the same way as a mate with experience only in open waters situations.

But in both cases both the pilot and the mate will likely revert to behavior that is deeply understood on an intuitive level.

So I’m thinking the lowest level of reactions, (above fight or flight) would be avoid the big steel wall dead ahead. Which would be a turn towards away from the steel wall towards open waters.

In the case of a mate with a lot of collision avoidance experience on 20+ kt ferry it might be avoid crossing ahead in a close quarters situations.


Anchor watches on even US ships at night consists one mate, required to rove and perhaps one AB. I have been on ships where there was only the mate on watch and one assistant Eng or if UMS no engineer. The mate is suppsed to do hourly rounds, if performed correctly on a 200-300 meter ship can take 35-45 min. Only when wx is picking up do the standing orders mandate staying on the bridge and possibly calling out an AB. In some areas an AB will be always on watch as security, in other areas not.


Ive worked on a lot of US ships and have never been asked or required to leave the bridge while at anchor. The AB makes continuous rounds and the Mate checks the position, monitors the radios, and keeps an eye on nearby traffic. I have no experience with foreign flagged ships to judge against but this is the minimum level of anchor watch that I am familiar with.


So true.

On most merchant ships, anchor watch is not taken seriously unless there is a chance of the vessel dragging her anchor in a crowded anchorage due to expected strong winds and the anchorage is known to have poor holding ground. If none of these conditions exist, then mates may take longer breaks from the wheelhouse leaving no one to take note of an oncoming vessel on collision course.


Yea I concur with what everyone else has said about anchor watch. You’re just there to make sure you don’t start dragging anchor, or if some alarm might go off. You’re not standing around with binoculars doing collision avoidance, that’s not the purpose.


That may be how you were taught but not me. Monitoring the traffic around you and paying attention to radio traffic is critical situational awareness. You’re not practicing collision avoidance per-se but you are not sitting there defenseless either. Much like positioning yourself on the bow or stern while another vessel is docking or undocking ahead or astern of you. Good seamanship is good seamanship and watchstanding is rarely leisurely if it is being done correctly.


My experience is similar to D.Y. Anchor watch in the bridge, the exception being DGAR. There watch from 1600-0800 except to meet the boats.C/M kept an eye during the day.

I agree about situational awareness, the watch should be aware of nearby traffic. I some times tell the watch to use the 6 mile range with target trails. That way the watch can see what’s going on with just a glance at the radar. Small boats approaching, ship getting too close or w/zero CPA.

Also the usual, weather changes etc.

In 100 meters of water is not a safe anchorage in good holding ground. Even with all the chain out it’s not going to take much wind/current for the ship to drag.

With 10 shackles out the scope is going to be less then 3:1


A recipe for creating or testing a scenario:

Three rules:
Rule 1: Ships are operated properly
Rule 2: Sometimes rule 1 gets broken
Rule 3: The more a scenario uses Rule 1 and the less it uses Rule 2 the more likely it is.

So we assume that the ship is properly operated except for lapses. To keep lapses (Rule 2) at a minimum they must occur at critical times.

In this case Rule 2 gets invoked twice, two lapses. Once at at about 8-12 miles, it’s assumed the ship is underway. (true 99.99% in this area)

At about 5 miles, time to reevaluate and maneuver if required, Rule 2 is invoked again. Mate dozes off. At a range of two ship lengths, revert to Rule 1, normal ops, but too late.

Rule 1 for the entire voyage, Rule 2 used for about 15 minutes.


Update on Monday, October 15 at 0001 local:

  • The flotilla of oil-spill-response ships off the FR-IT Riviera coast has thinned out to some symbolic remains.

  • The container vessel ‘Virginia’ did note move. She is still at anchor, accompanied by the Italian Tug ‘Toscana’.

  • The ferry ‘Ulysse’ berthed at Rades port of Tunis at 2000 local Sunday evening. The Italian safety tug ‘Santantonio Primo’ left her and returns to Italy.


Tunisian ferry crew arrested after collision with a container ship.

Tunis – The crew of a large Tunisian ferry which collided with a container ship in the Mediterranean sea has been arrested on returning to Tunisia.

A special security team caught the commander and two other crew members and referred them for an investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

The Tunisian roll-on/roll off ship Ulysse ran into the Cyprus-based CLS Virginia while it was anchored about 30 kilometres (20 miles) off the northern tip of the island at around 7:30 a.m.

The ferry which was separated from the CLS Virginia three days after the dramatic collision, docked late last night at the Rades seaport

The two ships became detached late Thursday evening for the first time since the incident. With the vessels separated, we’re now getting our first good look at some of the damage to the vessels.

The collision caused considerable damage, with an opening several meters long in the CLS Virginia’s hull.

The spill created a trail of pollution 4 kilometers long and several hundred meters wide, heading away from Corsica to the northwest, toward the French and Italian mainland.

The Ulysse, which is operated by the Tunisian Navigation Company (CTN), was traveling from Genoa in Italy to the Tunisian port at Rades near Tunis.


Update from Tuesday October 16, at 1500 local:

  • The ferry ‘Ulysse’ is now in dry-dock; at Bizerta port (Tunisia).

  • The container vessel ‘Viginia’ is still at anchor, accompanied by two Italian emergency tugs and a French Coast Guard boat.

The tugs often go alongside ‘Virginia’.
Maybe they evaluate or augment the vessel’s stability… before any port authority will accept her.


Update from October 23 at 2300 local, 16 days after the crash:

  • The ferry ‘Ulysse’ is still dry-docked at Bizerta (Tunisia)

  • The container vessel ‘CSL Virginia’ left her anchorage this afternoon at 1800 local.
    Accompanied by a French emergency tug she is heading South, West of Corsica, at 9/10 knots, outside of the French 12NM zone. Her AIS-destination shows Constanta (Romania) on the Black Sea.

Some 20 NM South of Constanta, at Mangalia, Damen has a big repair yard…


Confirmed here:


Update from October 26 at 1500 local:

The container vessel ‘CSL Virginia’ is now in the Sicily Strait, proceeding to Greece, at 12 knots; probably accompanied by a now stealth big Italian CG ship.

The French authorities said, an ‘independent authority’ declared the vessel as seaworthy.
The French were not convinced. Their coast guard accompanied the vessel 100 miles offshore, between the French and Spanish islands, before guiding her southwards, direction Tunisia.

Then the Italian CG took over. They did not use the busy lane between the Eastern and the Western Mediterranean, along the Sicily coast. They went South of the Italian islands in the Strait (Lampedusa) and of Malta.

If the Greek and Turkish CG have the same apprehensions, I do not see how the the ‘Virginia’ could reach the Black Sea; between the Aegean islands and through the Dardanelles and the Bosporus…


Update from October 28 at 1430 local:

The container vessel ‘CSL Virginia’ tried to enter the Aegean Sea, from the Ionian Sea, between the westernmost point of Crete and the island of Antikithyra, 15 miles to NW.

Two hours ago, she stopped and is now drifting abeam to NW at <1 knot, in southeasterly winds of 15/25 knots.

Either, she lost propulsion, or, some 20 miles off the Greek islands, the Greek cost guard stopped her…

After 4 hours adrift, she continued at 11 knots to the initially planned passage.
Just now, she enters the Aegean Sea.

Now, she changed her destination from Constanta to Lavrio.
Lavrio (or Lavrion, Laurium) is a smaller port on Greece’s mainland, 25 miles SE of Athens; without a dry-dock or a repair yard…


The container vessel “CSL Virginia” has changed flag and name:
She became the “Virgin Star” under Liberian flag.

Now, she is at the Besiktas Repair Yard at Yalova, Turkey; at the eastern end of the Marmara Sea.
She seems waiting to enter the 380 meter floating dry-dock.