WSF Collision

Since it appears that we are no longer allowed to comment on the old thread about a subject that is of considerable importance to all mariners, here is a new angle on a very similar event in the UK that might be interesting to many readers.

It seems that the Brits look at both sides of the equation rather than just dumping on the yachtie …

I’ve had a few dealings with British courts and in my experience, they cut to the chase way more efficiently than ours.

[QUOTE=Lee Shore;194912]I’ve had a few dealings with British courts and in my experience, they cut to the chase way more efficiently than ours.[/QUOTE]

Maybe because (I heard on the interwebs) that the loser pays over there in civil suits.

That’s right. In one case, a judge in London ruled in my favor when some people owed me money. At that point in the US, I’d have had to go chasing after the money with little chance of collecting. This judge gave them 3 months get the money together and deliver it to his courtroom in [U]cash[/U]. By then I had moved to the Netherlands but the court system paid my travel expenses back to the London courthouse where the judge personally watched them count out the money and hand it over. I was impressed.

This seems to have received little publicity but it looks like wrist slaps all round …

What I find disturbing is that the WSF master admitted watching the other boat for several minutes and chose not to make a slight course change to the right and pass behind him well before the crossing became an issue then a collision.

The only explanation for that failure to act in a timely manner is that WSF masters consider themselves too privileged to change course for a mere pleasure boat. That arrogance alone should have been enough to get him fired and lose his license for an extended period. The toy boat driver was stupid but the ferry driver is still an arrogant threat to navigation.

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Or maybe that’s the only explanation that’s acceptable to the anti-WSF zealots on this forum.

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and why are you being an apologist for such a blatant disregard of the most simple of the COLREGS by a career professional?


Pointing out that the master of the give way vessel had 5 minutes to make a slight deviation to starboard and avoid a collision hardly makes one an “anti-WSF zealot.”

COLREGS are not “anti-WSF.” It is the framework of rules developed to minimize the risk of collisions, especially in situations like the incident under discussion. WSF has a history and a culture of incidents and accidents caused by an institutionalized disregard for COLREGS and prudent operations. A prudent mariner (or a coastie who isn’t preparing for a WSF job after retirement) would question the psychology behind a failure give way long before the crossing became a collision. Knowing the institution well, I feel very comfortable suggesting the master’s failure to follow COLREGS or just use a bit of common sense and make a very slight turn to starboard was due to an ingrained “might is right” or “it is up to toy boats to get out of my way” attitude.

We don’t need that kind of person in command of a ferry or any other vessel. Why so many here support an obvious failure to comply with COLREGS (at the very least) and criticize those of us who point out the facts of this incident is beyond me. Do you work for WSF or just can’t see the huge elephant on that ferry?


The ferrry captain agrees he is at fault says that he waited to long to turn right. I doubt many are surprised at the disciplinary action taken. Likely most people will find it reasonable.

I don’t see anything that suggests that the WSF system has some deep rooted arrogance problem.

Here’s WSF report on incident. We put in FOIA request for coast guard report but apparently they don’t reply to those anymore.

Chetzemoka Investigation Report Dec 4 2016- short (1).pdf (1.0 MB)

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Wow … that is a pretty damning description of the ferry driver’s failure to take appropriate and timely action. It also leads into the question about his belief that the little boat would move for him and he was not about to give way. That speaks to attitude and culture.

It is also incredible that the guy would turn to port at the last moment … if he was trying to ram the little boat he couldn’t have done a better job of aiming at it.

Of course the little guy failed to follow the letter of COLREGS but considering that the ferry driver had no idea what was going on on the little boat his own failure to act properly make his actions even more egregious. How did he know the little boat driver was not lying unconcious on the wheelhouse deck? It looks like the helmsman had better situational awareness and more common sense than the master. Too bad the master was on the bridge, this probably wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t there.

I read that report as nitpicking the little guy’s technical mistakes (failure to take last moment action to avoid collision and not keeping a lookout) while purposely avoiding questioning the actions and inactions of the ferry driver. A lot of questions should have been asked that were not. And that speaks to a much larger problem of a too cozy relationship between the CG and WSF that is at the root of many of the issues that really caused this incident.

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When the point where collision is unavoidable is reached the goal becomes minimizing the damage as it’s too late to avoid. In this case left rudder reduces impact angle whereas right rudder would increase the impact angle.

I think you give the guy too much credit for situational awareness … the facts show he had none. You’re backing a loser.

Do the vectors … the ferry was turning to stbd already on a stbd rudder, turning the rudder to port first had to stop the stbd turn then swing the bow around to port just in time to nail the little boat midships at 90 degrees.

Using your own logic, a continued turn to stbd would have created a sideswipe at the very most if not just passing closely astern of the little boat. Turning to port only assured a T-bone situation and increased the impact angle to 90 degrees.

It is bad enough the ferry driver didn’t make a tiny course correction 5 minutes earlier when it would have turned the incident into just another dumb yachtie story but then when he decided to do something he not only did it too little too late but then apparently couldn’t decide which way he needed to go.

There is no defense for that kind of stupidity. At least the guy taking a crap didn’t do anything wrong except not look out the window.

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Because of hindsight bias all incidents appear to be much simpler than they are. I understand this and you don’t.

Thanks for the morning laugh …

Yeah, it was much more complex than virtually every news outlet, this site, the WSF management, and a whole boatload of forum members shouted about.

A few, very few, of us didn’t need hindsight to call this one … all the evidence needed to show the ferry driver responsible for a multitude of failures leading to the collision was there from the beginning.

There is very little complex about a ferry driver thinking, believing, and acting on some bizarre belief that he is above COLREGS and a little boat that had the “right of way” as the stand on vessel.

There is nothing complex about such bad bridge management that the excellent and timely advice of the helmsman was ignored because of the above.

What is complex, to me at least, is how and why you and so many others still defend the ferry driver even after the rest of the story has been released. What is equally complex to me is why the CG did not nail the guy for what has to be the most amateurish judgement possible.

I would love to see how the FAA and NTSB would have analyzed the human factors involved in this accident … I don’t believe for a moment that the ferry driver would have gotten no more than a wrist slap. It was an attitude based event strongly colored by system culture. Somehow I don’t think the FAA would have given an airline pilot a free pass if he survived an identical incident and admitted he believed the little private plane should or would get out of his way.

I didn’t expect much more from WSF but the CG should hang their heads in shame.


Nobody here has ever “defended” the captain. He was in violation of the rules and was punished

I don’t agree that this incident shows a deep rooted problem, much less it’s been shown, in my opinion that case has not been made at all.

Criticizing someone’s argument is not the same as as agreement with the exact opposite. For one thing how can someone read that report and “know”" what the captain was thinking?

As far as I’m concerned the details are not worth discussing here because you and c-captain are going to keep pounding away at the “WSF workers are idiots” argument till the other members give up.

“For one thing how can someone read that report and “know”” what the captain was thinking?"

Because the driver’s own statements made it very clear what he was thinking.

I can’t recall anyone stating that “WSF workers are idiots.” There are a few idiots there but probably in the same proportion as any other shipping company. Why is it so difficult for you to believe that those of us who have worked for WSF and actually know the outfit might have some insight into the corporate culture? What is it about that insight that disturbs you so much?

Why is it OK for you and others to delve deeply into TOTE’s corporate culture and the captain’s thoughts and actions but not WSF?

Have you ever worked for, or even took a ride on a WSF boat?

It seems like the “details” are worth discussing. How else are operating and safety standards developed? Why do you think the NTSB spends so much time analyzing things like the El Faro disaster and the mental state of the master before and during the event? Why do you think there are human factors specialists who do psych evaluations of the main players in an accident? Why do investigators dig so deeply into the corporate culture and its impact on employee performance and actions?

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[quote=“Kennebec_Captain, post:17, topic:17073, full:true”]
Nobody here has ever “defended” the captain. He was in violation of the rules and was punished[/quote]

yes, you are defending him in that you are stating that his violation of the COLREGS is mitigated by the operator of the small craft not maintaining a watch. had he followed the Rules per their mandate, the fact that there was no watch on the yacht would NEVER have played a part. he was bound to avoid the small vessel from the moment the risk of collision existed REGARDLESS of whether that vessel had a man at the helm. He was wrong FIRST and FOREMOST

a long history of incidents of non professional behavior and practices by WSF masters and mates is VERY well documented. there have been MANY accidents due to nothing more that WSF personnel error stemming from wrongdoing and disregard of safe navigation but you don’t know this because you don’t live here so close to that culture

nobody ever said that WSF personnel are all idiots but what has been said is that many have an attitude that pleasure vessels and their operators are nuisances and that the COLREGS only apply to interactions between commercial vessels and the ferries however the COLREGS do not differentiate and the master’s BAD ATTITUDE is why there was the collision

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the master of the ferry was not punished ENOUGH and if I were to ever commit such an egregious violation of the COLREGS as he did resulting in a collision then I am more that prepared to face the consequences of my actions