On 10 March 2012, the bulk carrier Seagate and the refrigerated-cargo ship Timor Stream collided while transiting open waters, 24 nautical miles north of the Dominican Republic. There were no injuries, but both ships were badly damaged and there was some minor pollution.
The report describes how, “the motoryacht Battered Bull was on an almost reciprocal heading from Seagate. Timor Stream was on Battered Bull’s port bow crossing from port to starboard. Battered Bull’s chief officer identified that Seagate and Timor Stream 6.7nm apart and that action was required by Seagate, the give way vessel, to avoid a close quarters situation or collision. Battered Bull’s chief officer altered course 24 degrees to port to avoid the developing situation with both Seagate and Timor Stream.”
The MAIB report also reveals that, “Seagate’s chief officer saw Timor Stream but assumed it was an overtaking vessel which would keep clear of Seagate. The master of Timor Stream, who was alone on the bridge, was not keeping an effective lookout. Neither watchkeeper realised that the two vessels were on a collision course until less than a minute before the accident.
"Timor Stream’s bow hit Seagate’s starboard side in the area of the accommodation block and engine room. Once the collision had taken place, Timor Stream’s master sounded the general alarm on his vessel and this was followed by Seagate’s master issuing a 'Mayday' call by VHF radio. Timor Stream’s master also issued a VHF radio 'Mayday' call and Battered Bull altered course towards the two damaged ships."
In the actions following the collision, Seagate’s chief officer is described to have climbed into the bow of the port lifeboat and attempted to disengage the lifeboat’s release hooks manually. Shortly afterwards, he fell overboard from the lifeboat, landing in the sea between the lifeboat and the ship’s side. The investigation reports that, “Seagate’s master used the VHF radio to broadcast that a man was overboard.... Battered Bull’s master manoeuvred his yacht close to the chief officer and a man-overboard recovery net was rigged over the yacht’s side. The chief officer swam, with the lifebuoy, to Battered Bull and their crewmen pulled him on board.”
The report concludes that, “the skillful and highly responsible actions of Battered Bull’s master, chief officer and crew in their reactions to the collision were very commendable. Battered Bull’s chief officer showed a thorough understanding of the navigational situation that he faced, and took the appropriate professional actions expected of a diligent watchkeeper leading an effective bridge team.”
The full report can be read here.