A Near Miss (17 November 2005)   Back to Valhalla's Adventures

While transiting the Malacca Straits I was motor-sailing to the west of the channel leading (northwest to southeast) into Port Dickson, Malaysia. Noticing a vessel approaching our course from our port side I used the recently installed  A.I.S. (see description) to check on it.  The display showed the following ... the MIRI CAHAYA had a HIGH collision potential.













I zoomed in for more detail.  I could now determine that our speeds were comparable and became concerned about the chance of collision.












I began calling the vessel on Channel 16 using it's name and CallSign (information from the AIS and Software on Board navigation program) to determine it's intentions.  As the privileged vessel I was required to maintain course and speed.

Repeated calling got no response until a few minutes later the situation was rapidly getting serious.
























From both visual and AIS information I could see that the tanker was turning further into my course and the time to closest point of approach (TCPA) was diminishing.  I considered that the tanker was turning to go behind me, which would have been the proper action, but needed to confirm the intention (a normal action under the 'rules of the road').  I began calling the tanker again as it was heading directly toward us.  After repeated and unanswered calls to the tanker I announced my intention to take evasive action as I determined our situation to be 'in extremis'.

We were now at points '1' shown below.  The tanker was coming directly toward us.  A turn to starboard would place us directly in front of the tanker's course so I put the wheel hard over to port and increased speed as much as possible.













From the tracks shown you can see that the tanker continued to turn to starboard.  Our closest point of approach (CPA) happened as we passed starboard to starboard.  If it had been clear that the tanker intended to pass port to port (which would have been confirmed by an answer to my VHF calls), I would have either maintained my course or turned to starboard.

A near miss caused by a lack of communication.  Something that did not help our concern was that we have met with two vessels over the past month that collided with cargo ships .. both captains feeling that it was on purpose.

The following comment was left on the Visitor's Log:

Your name, please :   Kevin Cooley   Comments? :   You should just simply stay out of the way of tankers in channels. What were you thinking?

Well, Kevin, I wish you had left your email address so I could tell you that 1) I was NOT in the channel.  I was to the west of the channel which was parallel to my course.  2) The tanker was approaching the channel from the southwest ... about 90 degrees from the channel course line.  3)  I was probably thinking I was doing the right thing!

To anyone else that sees this page ... please feel free to send comments to me by email .  I would enjoy getting more opinions about it ... thanks.