USS J McCain / Alnic MC collision near Singapore

Rule 8 : Action to avoid collision goes:

(b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.

Maybe USS J McCain didn’t avoid the collision?

They got T-boned!!! Of course they didn’t avoid the fucking collision!

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We, who are familiar with the rules of the sea, know that merchant ships underway shall display (i) a white masthead light forward, (ii) a second white masthead light abaft of and higher than the forward one, except that a vessel of less than 50 metres in length shall not be obliged to exhibit such light but may do so, (iii) green/red sidelights and (iv) a white stern light.

If these rules apply to USN ships and submarines is beyond me. State ships can do what they like.

Then there is a rule for air-cushion vessels, when operating in the non-displacement mode. They shall, in addition to the lights prescribed for normal displacement ships exhibit an all round flashing yellow light.

Finally we have the Wing-In-Ground (WIG) effect vehicles. They shall, in addition to the lights prescribed for normal ships exhibit a high intensity all-round flashing red light when they fly above the seas.

I know that USN hates to tell us where it is, but why not display a high intensity all-round flashing blue light at night to show off. When the ENEMY attacks, USN can switch it off.

USN could also use pink or yellow flashing lights to inform us where it is.

Is this a joke? i don’t get it a pink flashing light would be kind of funny though. From your comments I can tell you haven’t worked around many navy vessels. Bottom line their’s an operational problem that finally might get addressed they don’t need special rules just follow the ones that are in place. We won’t even talk about good seamanship.

In 1981 when I was a cadet on a commercial cruise the Second mate called a vessel approaching us on the port side. The other vessel refused to change course of take any action. That should say something about some so-called mariners.

I admit that I have not read everything but I do have a question: Is there any analysis of what happened with the McCain? It was hit in the port quarter at an angle that indicates an overtaking situation (unless the McCain cut across the bow of the other vessel, and then at a slow speed). Something seems very fishy in Denmark.

Nothing official other than the claim of supposed steering failure. There’s a very plausible sounding theory about the McCain overtaking the tanker too close and getting her steering fouled by the hydrodynamic forced between the two and swerving across the tanker’s bow.

Wow. That would be awfully close. I would not want to do that. And I
have not sailed on ships in a long time. I have been running fast
ferries in the San Francisco bay. Pretty fun having in excess of 11,000
hp in a light aluminum catamaran. Stay away from everything.

Interaction is well known to bring two vessels together but I have never heard of interaction causing a vessel to turn 90 deg ahead of another vessel. Pre-emptive Interaction with Quantum Entanglement?..hmmm curiouser and curiouser.

If they were holding left rudder to counter the bow pressure pushing them off, I could see it happening. When I was working a seismic gun boat we damn near ate our supply boat when they did that and pulled ahead instead of out (new captain in training, guy had rocks for brains). Icebreaker bow vs ancient converted supply boat could have been real ugly.

But yeah, they’d be way too damn close to each other to begin with if that’s what happened. I realize the straits there are tight quarters, but there’s no reason to get THAT close to another boat there.

There has also been speculation from the former SWO’s on this thread that they were trailing a shaft to conserve fuel. This would add to the lack of maneuverability when (as jbtam said) the navy ship may have been holding hard port rudder to counter the shear from the tankers bow wake. If you’re not anticipating that same sheer to have the same interaction with your stern as you go past, you bet your ass you could turn hard port across the overtaken vessels bow.

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Fair comment both as merchant ships don’t usually trail shafts under normal steaming. Would you really trail a shaft in a TSS?

Usually you’d be at least at split plant(one engine per shaft running so you had both shafts), but it depends on where you are and when you were officially entering the straits.

Most OODs I’ve seen will bring the second engine/shaft online whenever they start to get that “man this is getting hairy” feeling, but I can’t speak for all of them.

Not unless you had a bad case of cranial rectal insertion.

Trail shaft is a transit configuration, not a maneuvering configuration.

This should not be left to the OOD to decide. The Captain’s Night Orders should have specified what changes in propulsion configuration and watch station manning needed to be made at a specific point, or position. e.g. "prior to entering the TSS, the engineering plant should be…, and additional watches should be set in … for xxxxx ". This should be standard procedure, a “no brainer”.

Of course, the OOD could certainly increase the watch station manning or the engineering readiness earlier, if deemed necessary or prudent.


Another collision in Singapore Strait, but not involving any warship this time:

Lates from CNA:

PS> Something doesn’t tally here. The tanker came out from Western Anchorage and crossed to the East bound lane, while the dredger was transiting in the West bound lane, which would indicate that the collision damages should be on the port side of the tanker’s bow.

The short video showing the tanker at anchor on Eastern Anchorage after the collision show damages on Stbd. bow however. (???)

Official MPA notice:

unless the tanker just hit the rear end of the dredge?

Looks like you are right:

BTW: the JBB De Rong 19 was brand new, built this year.

From today’s LL

BARELY three weeks after the warship USS John S McCain collided with the oil tanker Alnic MC on August 21, the waters around Singapore witnessed another fatal collision early on Wednesday.

The latest accident — involving the tanker Kartika Segara and the dredger JBB De Rong — brings the number of collisions so far this year to seven.

Data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence from 2007 shows that the number of collisions every year around Singapore waters has ranged from a low of six in 2009, 2010 and 2011 to as high as 11 in 2014 and 10 in 2013. From the 2014 high, the number fell to eight in 2015 and seven in 2016.

This equates to an average of 8.1 collisions per year over the period, or a minimum average of one accident at least every two months.

As in a busy highway where car crashes are sometimes expected, Singapore sits in the middle of shipping routes connecting east and west.

The Singapore Strait is one of the world’s busiest sea lanes where vessels are separated by less than a nautical mile, or about 1.8 km, and daily vessel movements total more than 1,000.

To further illustrate the density, the world’s second-biggest container port handles more than 30m teu every year.

So, are the waters around Singapore just too congested for ships to avoid colliding with each other?

The answer is actually a “no”, as both of the recent collisions could have been avoided.

As for the Kartika Segara and JBB De Rong collision, both vessels had not heeded warnings from the port’s vessel traffic control to avoid the collision, and in the case of the USS John S McCain and the Alnic MC, the warship was not detected, possibly due to not switching on the automatic identification system, and there was also steering gear failure.

The port also uses a traffic separation scheme to reduce collisions. The scheme involves neatly co-ordinating ships sailing through a busy strait by moving them into distinct lanes heading in the same direction.

An ex-naval officer with extensive experience said that 8-10 collisions a year is not much different from other very busy harbours in busy straits and narrow channels, while emphasising that more should be done to avoid fatal accidents.

More often than not, such accidents are due to human error or mechanical error.

Ship collisions have a greater probability of occurring at night when the crew may be tired and visibility is poor. The Kartika Segara and JBB De Rong collision was slightly after midnight while the John S McCain and Alnic MC collision occurred in the pre-dawn hours.

To further remind shipping crews, who sometimes pay with their lives in such collisions, the ex-naval officer suggested having a standby radar switched on during the night or when it is raining, and having an extra person on watch during the night, ideally someone senior.

And as the maritime sector embraces digitalisation, an over-reliance on technology can also be responsible for collisions. Actually seeing vessels from the deck is much better at avoiding collisions than just relying on the radar, which may not pick up small boats or where a miscalculation might suggest an approaching vessel being further way than it actually is.

There has been an increasing focus on safety at sea, highlighting issues such as mental health of seafarers, but perhaps more can also be done in terms of training and motivation of crews to keep them safe from collisions.

I sail/power around Singapore and cross both lanes to go to Indonesia all the time, I dont see its too congested at all.

Look at the all the last plane crashes around the world, self inflicted crashes of perfectly airworthy aircraft, they pilots have far less skill today than years ago same in ships except they crash into each other rather than the ground

Did you follow the track of the tanker after it ran into the dredge, it looks like it was going to do a runner