A departure from the Rules may be required due to dangers of navigation or to dangers of collision. For instance, a power-driven vessel meeting another power-driven vessel head-on may be unable to alter course to starboard, as directed by Rule 14, owing to the presence of (overtaking) traffic on her starboard side. The departure must be of such a nature as to avoid the danger which threatens. If a departure from the Rules is necessary to avoid immediate danger, a vessel would not only be justified in departing from them but may be expected to do so.
Rule 17, b) When the vessels are so close that collision cannot be avoided by the give-way vessel alone, the stand-on vessel is required to take such action as will best aid to avoid collision. Thence, Rule 17, c) does not apply at this stage; therefore a power-driven vessel is permitted to turn to port for another power-driven vessel on the port bow. Turning towards the other vessel may be the best action to take at close quarters if one vessel appears likely to strike the other at right angles.
Since there was no danger of being strike at right angles, an alteration to port was not expected to be done, unless an agreement was obtained. An alteration to starboard would likely result in another close-quarters situation. Therefore, the only likely option left was to slacken the speed down or take all way off by stopping and reversing.
Taking all way off;
To stop short a laden Aframax, the use of Rudder Cycling technique is agreed. But it takes room and time. As well, the meet head-on vessel could land very confused by the change in aspect of the navigation lights. Therefore, the meet vessel should be notified in advance. The technique works very well. I have done it on a ship’s bridge simulator, on a manned model and in the real life on board such tankers.
Finally, the only likely option left was to reverse full, assisted by the 6850 BHP double Voith tug pulling full on the starboard side axis to oppose the propeller transverse thrust so to keep her steady. The vessel would rest all dead in the water within a few lengths, even less. Hoping that the engine was not on the Load Control and or the engineer could override it. A pilot would advice… such a maneuver ( and believing he did) even if he was only assisted by any of the OWW alone. No permission required from the master …
But at the end of the day, no one is required to be a hero since the ordinary practice of a seamen express that in the face of an eminent peril at sea, no one can be held responsible for an action taken if the expected outcome is not the one obtained ! If a master or a pilot can’t do it, who can ?