The overtaking situation is generally regarded as a kind of vessel conference presenting the least risk come the vessels involved. This is primarily because of the truth that, in contrast to crossing and also head-on situations, overcome often involves low family member speeds in between the vessels, bring about a much more slowly arising situation that the mariner is much better able to appreciate, analyze and also react to.

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In this starboard quarter approach, the relative place of the vessels and configuration of navigation lights readjust over time. While the steering and sailing rules apply to vessels in sight, this scenario deserve to still cause confusion as to whether this is an overcome or crossing instance under details circumstances. Never assume the other vessel share your see of which rules apply. Be all set to take evasive action.

Despite this tardy of short risk, mariners need to be mindful that there are certain risks innate to overtaking. Overtaking situations frequently require vessels to be in close proximity to each other for prolonged periods of time, causing an boosted danger that collision in between vessels if over there is a failure to appreciate a readjust in course or speed of among the vessels, and also potentially limiting both vessels’ maneuverability, which might be required as other crossing or head-on website traffic is encountered. Furthermore, the starboard 4 minutes 1 approach, one of the most nuanced aspects of the overcome situation, gift a an extremely real hazard to both vessels when there is a lack of evaluation of the instance or a misapplication of the rules, which deserve to lead to confusion regarding the status and responsibilities that vessels.

Consider the adhering to hypothetical scenario. The is a calm, clean night in the western viewpoints to the English Channel. Charleston, a 950-foot containership, is outbound on a west-southwesterly course making 20 knots. Houston, a 550-foot petroleum product carrier, is outbound on a westerly food making 12 knots. Houston is 22 nm southwest the Charleston as soon as Charleston first begins to track it top top radar, but Charleston has not seen it visually at that time. The instance continues to develop and also Houston is 16 nm southwest of Charleston when Charleston is able come make out its eco-friendly sidelight and white masthead lights. By the moment the vessels are eight miles from every other, neither vessel has altered course or speed and there is a zero-nm closest point of approach.

At this point, the vessels converse on VHF radio and also it becomes noticeable that over there is a disagreement in between them regarding the status of Charleston. Houston believes that Charleston began out together an overtaking vessel, that a subsequent readjust in bearing in between the 2 vessels cannot make it a cross vessel, the Charleston is the give-way vessel and that Charleston should change course or rate to keep out the the way of Houston. Charleston believes the Houston, back stating the applicable dominion correctly, has misapplied the rule to the situation and also its analysis is flawed. Charleston has no doubt that this is a crossing situation, that Houston is the give-way vessel and that Houston should alter course or rate to store out that the method of Charleston. Just how should this encounter, i m sorry one courage sees together an overcome situation and also the various other vessel sees as a crossing situation, it is in resolved?


ColRegs ascendancy 15 governs crossing situations and states that, “when two power-driven vessels are crossing so regarding involve threat of collision, the ship which has actually the other on her own starboard side shall store out the the method and shall, if the situations of the instance admit, stop crossing front of the other vessel.”

ColRegs ascendancy 13 governs overtaking situations and also states that, “any courage overtaking any type of other shall keep out of the means of the vessel gift overtaken.” This rule applies to every vessels, not just power-driven vessels, as is the case in crossing and also head-on situations. The preeminence does not require the overcome vessel to maneuver in any details manner, generally permitting an overcome vessel to happen on either next of the overtaken vessel. However, care should be exercised by the overtaking vessel to preserve an ideal distance off the overtaken courage to prevent the effects of interaction, and also to ensure the it is fine clear the the overtaken ship before any kind of subsequent alteration of course ahead the the overtaken vessel.

Rule 13(b) says that, “a vessel chandelier be considered to it is in overtaking when coming increase with one more vessel from a direction more than 22.5 levels abaft she beam,” such that only that overtaken vessel’s stern light and also neither that its sidelights would be clearly shows at night. Thus, there space clear test that deserve to be employed, which space intended to eliminate any type of doubt regarding whether a vessel is overtaking or crossing. A vessel may employ the use of radar and also automatic radar plotting aids to identify its family member position and also angle that approach, and observe the lamp of other vessels. Regardless of these efforts at providing a bright line test because that determining one’s status, there are details factors, such as the failure to monitor a ship on radar or the variety at which lamp may end up being visible and also identified, i m sorry may result in uncertainty. However, rule 13(c) attempts to resolve any kind of uncertainty regarding the condition of an overcome vessel through stating that, “when a vessel is in any doubt regarding whether she is overtaking another, she shall assume the this is the case and act accordingly.”

Finally, ascendancy 13(d) claims that, “any subsequent modification of the bearing in between the 2 vessels shall not make the overtaking vessel a cross vessel within the definition of these Rules or relieve her of the duty of maintaining clear the the overtaken vessel till she is lastly past and also clear.” rule 13(d) is to plan to fix the starboard quarter approach problem. Vice versa, a vessel coming up on one more vessel’s port quarter would certainly be the give-way vessel regardless of whether it is an overcome or crossing situation, the exact same cannot be said for the starboard 4 minutes 1 approach, wherein the vessel comes up would be the give-way ship in an overcome situation and the stand-on ship in a crossing situation. Dominance 13(d) is plan to prevent such a shift in condition by prohibiting an overtaking vessel, through virtue the a readjust in its place relative come the overtaken vessel, from coming to be a cross vessel as soon as it is much less than 22.5 levels abaft the its beam or in such a position regarding see its running light and masthead light(s) and not the stern light.

Despite the bright heat tests for overtaking status, default presumption of overtaking status, and also prohibition on change in standing from overtaking to crossing collection forth in ascendancy 13, the starboard quarter strategy nevertheless presents difficulties in application. Mariners that are experienced in their knowledge of the ColRegs room still topic to misapplication the the rule resulting indigenous faulty evaluation or analysis of the situation. Consider the aforementioned hypothetical scenario involving Charleston and Houston inside the vessels disagreed about the status of Charleston as either an overtaking or cross vessel. The an essential to assessing this scenario is the relative position and angle of method of Charleston at the time Charleston had the ability to make the end Houston’s eco-friendly sidelight and also masthead lights.


Rule 13 administer the overcome situation and also Rule 15 governing the crossing instance are component of the steering and sailing rules and, together such, rule 11 claims that these rules “apply to ship in sight of one another.” preeminence 3(k) states that, “vessels chandelier be understood to be in vision of one another only as soon as one can be observed visually from the other.” The effects of this an interpretation are significant, as only visual monitorings made by the mariner’s eye, as aided through binoculars or various other optical aids, meet the necessity of gift in sight. Together Craig H. Allen, university of Washington regulation professor, retired U.S. Shore Guard officer, and recognized authority on the ColRegs, notes rather tongue-in-cheek in the eighth edition of Farwell’s rule of the Nautical Road, “there are those that would argue that even observations utilizing these optical gadgets should be excluded. Whether this hair splitters would certainly exclude eyeglasses too is unclear.” Regardless, the is clear the for ship to it is in in sight of one another, there have to be a visual monitoring by the mariner and not merely an electronic observation, e.g. Tracking through radar.

In the abovementioned scenario, while Charleston to be initially much more than 22.5 levels abaft that Houston’s beam once it began tracking Houston top top radar, Charleston was less than 22.5 degrees abaft that Houston’s beam once it was able to make out Houston’s lights. As a an outcome of its family member position and also angle of method at the moment the 2 vessels to be in sight, Charleston was no locked in as an overcome vessel, yet rather delighted in the condition of a crossing vessel to starboard. Accordingly, Houston must take early and substantial action by transforming course or rate in stimulate to keep out of the way and well clear of Charleston and, if the circumstances of the situation admit, avoid crossing front of Charleston.

However, over there is room for confusion in the starboard quarter strategy where factors such as distinctions in vessels’ height of eye and also visibility that lights can lead vessels to reach different conclusions about the rights and responsibilities that vessels associated in the encounter. That is entirely feasible that Houston would preserve the validity the its analysis and urge that that is the stand-on ship in an overtaking situation. In the event, even if Houston had incorrectly analyzed the situation, Charleston would be permitted and also eventually required to take action under the rules even as the stand-on ship in a crossing situation. Preeminence 17 would permit Charleston come take activity to protect against collision by its maneuver alone once it became apparent that Houston was no taking appropriate action and would need Charleston to take action to stop collision when it became apparent that collision can not it is in avoided through the action of Houston alone.

While a seasoned deck officer might not think about the starboard quarter to be one of the many esoteric aspects of the ColRegs, it is a fine example of the prominence of not only learning the ColRegs, but additionally the prominence of evaluating situations accurately and applying the ColRegs correctly. As this script demonstrates, a lack of evaluation of the case or a misapplication of the rules deserve to lead come confusion regarding the status and responsibilities the vessels. Mariners involved in a starboard quarter approach situation have to never assume the the courage ahead/to port considers chin to be the give-way vessel in a crossing instance or, likewise, that the courage astern/to starboard considers itself to be the give-way courage in an overtaking situation and should be prepared to take avoiding action as vital in accordance with the rules.

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—————-Samuel R. Clawson Jr. Is an attorney with Clawson & Staubes llc in Charleston, S.C., that holds an unlimited tonnage seller marine deck officer’s license and also has cruised for a significant international container liner. He has lectured on topics consisting of terrestrial navigation and Rules that the Road.