Farwell has much authoritative interpretation of the Collision Regulations relating to the actions of the ferry in this incident. Farwell’s Rules of the Nautical Road
1: Assessing Risk of Collision if the other vessel is a ferry on a Regular Run – “they are not so crossing so as to involve Risk of Collision if the course which is reasonably to be attributed to either vessel would keep her clear of the other. The question therefore always turns on the reasonable inference to be drawn as to a vessel’s future course from her position at a particular moment & this greatly depends on the nature of the locality where she is at the moment”
2: Relative Bearings – Rule 22.7 expressly recognizes the importance of Compass Bearings in determining if risk of Collision exists – the relevant bearing is the Compass Bearing of the approaching vessel, not her Relative Bearing which change with any change in own vessel’s heading. Thus a change (or no change) in relative bearing may indicate nothing more than unsteady steering by own ship.
3: Adequate Passing Distance – If a vessel eg Classique, concludes the passing distance is adequate without any change of course, she may lawfully hold her course.
4: Altering Classification of Approach – the effect of a turn by 1 vessel after it is in sight – a vessel that turned deliberately to place herself in the position of a Stand-on vessel in a crossing situation – the approach cannot be unilaterally converted by 1 vessel into another classification.
5: A stand-on vessel that fails to hold her course & speed violates Rule 22.17 – the ferry in turning to starboard was in direct contravention.
6: Structure of Colregs – designed to ensure that ships will not reach a close quarters situation in which there is Risk of Collision.
7: Course & Speed – A stand-on vessel does not violate Rule 22.17 by course & speed changes carried out in the course of ordinary navigation, such as a turn on a Regular Run. The key criterion for evaluating any such changes is the extent to which the change is reasonably foreseeably by the Give-way vessel …”course & speed, mean course & speed in following the nautical maneuver in which to the knowledge of the other vessel, the vessel is at that time engaged” … The “course” does not mean the actual compass direction of the heading at the time the other is sighted. The stand-on vessel cannot follow a course & speed that will lead to collision. A stand-on vessel maintains her course & speed within the meaning of Rule 22.17, not only when her course & speed are steady but also when she continues to engage in a steady predictable maneuver.
8: Maneuvering & warning signals – The signals are mandatory, as evidenced by the words “must indicate” in Rule 22.32. Even if it is thought that the signals may not be heard, they must be given. Any sound signaling appliance must be capable of producing the prescribed blasts & must comply with the specifications in Appendix 3. A whistle’s tone provides some indication of her length – deep, intermediate, high pitch. Failure to have required equipment constitutes fault. The Ferry apart from not having a complying horn, didn’t sound his warning blasts appropriately & also failed to indicate “I am operating stern propulsion” which M Pigneyguy says it used to slow or stop to let Classique pass.
9: Responsibility, Rule 22.40 – the mariner must give regard to 3 categories of risk factors … all dangers of navigation, collision & to any special circumstances of the situation.
10: Practice of Good Seamanship – mere compliance of the rules is not enough – broader obligations are imposed upon seamen to act reasonably & prudently, recognising customs observed by all mariners in particular locations which play an important role in collision prevention with a solemn warning that compliance with the rules does not terminate the ever present duty to exercise reasonable skill, care, competence & the ordinary intelligence of a competent seaman.
11: Rule 22.17.2b. “must not alter course to port for a vessel on its own port side Correctly explained – it does not specifically apply to action by a Stand-on vessel under R22.17” which is framed deliberately to give seamen a wide discretion so that they can take “whatever action will best avoid collision” … under some circumstances a turn to port will be the maneuver that will best aid to avoid collision & port turns are not always condemned.
12: Departure from the rules – may be justified if the application of good seamanship could have adjusted the encounter to permit the vessels to pass under more favourable circumstances.
Farwell’s “Rules of the Nautical Road” are very comprehensive in the interpretation of our Collision Regulations & would be a valued addition to a navigator’s library – It may be found by clicking this link –
Farwell’s Rules of the Nautical Road
Professional mariners, military and civilian, will find this book to be an invaluable reference in understanding the rules of the road and the role these rules play in managing the risk of collision.
The author provides a thorough commentary on the rules and an analysis of collision cases involving abuse of the rules. Maritime attorneys and judges will find the book continues to be an indispensable reference on collision law as Craig Allen provides a mariner’s insight into how the rules apply in context and their application by the courts and administrative tribunals.
This new edition completely revises chapters on the rules pertaining to good seamanship and special circumstances and on restricted visibility, and it vastly expands coverage of the narrow channel rule, traffic separation schemes, and the application of the rules to high-speed craft.
It also extensively revises materials on the look out and risk of collision responsibilities to update coverage on radar and ARPA and to address new technologies, such as integrated bridge systems, automatic identification systems, voyage data recorders and the increasingly active role of VTS.
The first update in ten years, the eighth edition upholds and even surpasses the standards set over the past sixty years of the guide’s publication.