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Old 08-03-2017, 11:22 PM   #1
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Correct use of Restricted Maneuverability status

Every time a collision occurs between a large and small vessel someone inevitably pulls out the Restricted in Ability to Maneuver card and applies it to the larger vessel. It usually get corrected quickly, but illustrates how misunderstood that status is.

Over the past few days I have encountered two appropriate uses that I think shed light on what this status is all about.

First case was off Victoria in the Strait of Juan De Fuca. A survey vessel was underway normally, then preparing to conduct a bottom survey. Well in advance, they notified VTS where their intended location would be, and that they would be restricted in their ability to maneuver while they conducted a bottom survey. They further announced this as a security call. I wasn't close enough to see, but expect they were flying the appropriate day shapes. I should have thought to check their AIS status as well which should have changed to restricted maneuverability (code 3). By declaring this status, they put themselves almost at the top of the pecking order for stand on/giveway. As I recall the only thing higher is NUC, or not under control, i,e. A broken down vessel.

The second case was just now. There is a war ship off San Diego that is doing a periodic security call declaring themselves restricted in ability to maneuver. I'm still over 100 miles from there so don't know for sure, but expect it's an aircraft carrier conducting flight operations.

These strike me as good examples of correct use of this status. My ship is big and I don't want to turn the wheel is NOT an example.
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Old 08-04-2017, 01:12 AM   #2
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Can you give examples of "my ship is big and I don't want to turn the wheel"?
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Old 08-04-2017, 01:19 AM   #3
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Can you give examples of "my ship is big and I don't want to turn the wheel"?

I was just poking at the notion that a larger ship that can't maneuver like a runabout is automatically endowed with restricted maneuverability status. They aren't, and that status only occurs under very specific conditions, and would be clearly announced.
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Old 08-04-2017, 01:50 AM   #4
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Ummm...

Ok?

Not sure of your point. Do you work on ships? Have you personally ever seen this? I have not.
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Old 08-04-2017, 02:52 AM   #5
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Sorry, I'm not making myself clear.

No, I have never seen a ship assume they have restricted in maneuverability status simply because they are big and don't maneuver like a speed boat.

What I'm referring to are all the discussions here and in other forums analyzing crashes after the fact, and debating who had "right of way". There was recently a ferry collision with a pleasure boat in Puget Sound where this came up. Someone, at some point in the conversation usually asserts that the larger boat, being less maneuverable, has precedence because it is restricted in maneuverability. That's not the case. I wanted to relay these two recent examples of where restricted maneuverability status is appropriate, and how it plays out. Los of people clearly don't understand where and how it fits into the rules.

Make sense now?
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Old 08-04-2017, 05:32 AM   #6
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Yes, it all makes sense.

Hope this is not a hijack but a related situation arose here in Brisbane about 10 days ago. It was just after exercise Talisman Sabre, involving 33,000 military personnel from a number of countries and a whole lot of ships as well. Afterwards a bunch of US, and Australian, navy vessels came to the Port of Brisbane for R&R. Amongst them was the US Ronald Reagan which didn't cause any issues although I think it was her wake when heading out to sea that shook me up in the middle of the night while anchored out in Moreton Bay. About 100,000 t at 17 kn can do that even if it is over 1 nm away.

On my way out of the river I was monitoring Ch 12 (Brisbane VTS) when a warship announced they were departing their berth in 30 minutes. They had not previously advised VTS, which is mandatory for commercial shipping and common sense and courtesy for the navy. So when VTS acknowledged their call VTS indicated that they would prefer the naval vessel to delay their departure by 30 minutes. The response could only have come from a navy vessel, concluding with 'we will depart at our previously advise time, OUT'. By the way, this was an Australian ship not US, but one with a home port a long way away where there is almost no large commercial vessels entering/leaving port. So I was quite amused when this navy ship got near Luggage Point and realised, Oops, there probably isn't room for us in the entrance channel, we'll heave to until the commercial ship using most of the Entrance Channel has passed by. It clearly had nowhere else to go (very restricted manoeuvrability at the time), and was on an VTS approved schedule anyway.

For the next few days there were lots of arrivals and departures of navy vessels, the Port was infested with the damn things! What was odd to me was that few of them felt the need to monitor Ch 12 or Ch 16 when in port, which they are required to do here. Several times it took phone calls to find someone to actually respond on the radio. Civilian service vessels were simply not going to get close to any of these naval ships without someone on their bridge being aware of the approach. Fair enough! I cant believe the whole ships company went on R&R at the same time! Coming back in myself I observed some crew on deck, I kept well clear without being asked, but could not help but wonder why the military think they can just ignore a VTS and Port protocols that are operating for everyone's benefit and safety. At least the naval ships, even the US ones, were taking Pilot's on board as entry to the Port of Brisbane is not all that simple.
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Old 08-04-2017, 05:36 AM   #7
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I have worked on ships up to 400 feet....

I have taught captains licensing.....

My experience and working with all levels of mariners, ships usually do respect the rules and even poorly manueverable ships still give way when appropriate to even the smallest of craft. NOBODY likes a collision..... well except a few old crusty tugboat drivers I have talked to. They ran tugs in areas where small boats are like mosquitoes and don't follow any of the rules (to a point).....they just had the attitude that any manuevering they did would wind up just running someone else over.

RAM is because a vessel is doing something related to her job.....as in buoy tending, survey work, flight operations, cable laying, etc..... not because of size.

Even a tug and tow is not automatically RAM unless the captain declares it so because he feels he cannot comply with the rules in general. And that is true of any vessel....if you cant comply with the rules you probably should be declaring RAM or NUC (not under command) and making it known to others the best you can.

For large vessels, under international COLREGS, if unable to comply due to water depths, they are constrained by draft. If in Inland COLREGS, they are probably in a narrow channel anyway.

Its one thing to be able to read the regs, it is another to comprehend them from experience.

Rule 2 is there for a reason and is often overlooked. It's probably Rule 2 for a good reason because of its nature. It is easy to pick out readers instead of understanders when the "starboard" concept is tossed around in a vacuum....
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Old 08-04-2017, 07:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaltyDawg86 View Post
Can you give examples of "my ship is big and I don't want to turn the wheel"?


Washington state ferry that collided with a trawler hitting him on his port side.
Great example. Everyone sided with the ferry due to it's size. Also the captain had left the helm with the boat on autopilot. But after an investigation they found the ferry captain did not give way to the stand on vessel.
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Old 08-04-2017, 08:19 AM   #9
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Sorry, I'm not making myself clear.

...

Make sense now?
I'm smelling what you're stepping in.

Now there are times a ship has right away because of her size. Constrained By Draft (international) and restricted to the channel (inland), but often times people use RAM and don't know what it means. They forget "due to the nature of her work".
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Old 08-04-2017, 08:51 AM   #10
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It's occasionally true that an ignorant recreational boater, having somehow gotten hold of the keys to a [relatively] large yacht, assumes that the size of the vessel confers on them some sort of privileged maneuvering status. I don't recall any commercial mariner getting this wrong, however.
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Old 08-04-2017, 09:20 AM   #11
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................ but could not help but wonder why the military think they can just ignore a VTS and Port protocols that are operating for everyone's benefit and safety. .
It's because they have guns. Big guns. Who in their right mind would challenge a boat with big guns aboard?

I was once on the AICW in a narrow channel when three military boats passed us at perhaps 50 MPH, throwing a huge wake. I didn't see them until the last minute and all I could do was hold on tight. I suppose I should at least called out on the radio to warn boaters ahead of me but I was busy picking up loose things off the deck and in the cabin.

They obviously knew they were throwing big wakes and endangering recreational boaters but obviously didn't give a rat's a$$.

Bottom line is, the military does what it wants to because it can.
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Old 08-04-2017, 09:23 AM   #12
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Bottom line is, the military does what it wants to because it can.
Which is BS. While I support our military, the whole "rules don't apply to us" crap pisses me off.
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Old 08-04-2017, 10:42 AM   #13
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Which is BS. While I support our military, the whole "rules don't apply to us" crap pisses me off.
That's fine, I pissed you off. You are probably not the only person I'll piss off today.

Supporting the military is fine but that's not the point. Three boats ran up the waterway at high speed with no regard for the safety of others. I support the military's mission but not irresponsible actions by individual members.
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Old 08-04-2017, 10:45 AM   #14
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Correct use of Restricted Maneuverability status

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pgitug View Post
Washington state ferry that collided with a trawler hitting him on his port side.
Great example. Everyone sided with the ferry due to it's size. Also the captain had left the helm with the boat on autopilot. But after an investigation they found the ferry captain did not give way to the stand on vessel.


That was the example I was thinking of as well.

As you point out, my initial assumption was that the ferry would be the stand-on vessel. I had two reasons, both erroneous. The first was the assumption that the ferry was in a designated corridor in the Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Service Area. It wasn't. That service area ends at Commencement Bay. I boat in these waters all the time and should have known better. The second was the idea that the WA State Ferry was restricted in maneuverability. I was wrong there as well.

We don't know because I don't think the results of the investigation was every made public, but my "guess" is that the ferry captain had gotten lulled into complacency going back and forth between Pt Defiance and Vashon Island partly because most local boaters such as myself, give the ferry a wide berth out of courtesy. This could lead the ferry captain to think "I am bigger so others should get out of my way." At least when it comes to recreational traffic.
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Old 08-04-2017, 11:11 AM   #15
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That's fine, I pissed you off. You are probably not the only person I'll piss off today.

Supporting the military is fine but that's not the point. Three boats ran up the waterway at high speed with no regard for the safety of others. I support the military's mission but not irresponsible actions by individual members.
.... I was agreeing with you.
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Old 08-04-2017, 12:20 PM   #16
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In the vashon ferry case both boats were found at fault. The ferry for not giving way and the rec boat for not having some one at the helm. I believe the blame was made 60/40 with the ferry getting more blame.
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Old 08-04-2017, 01:42 PM   #17
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There seems to be among recreational boaters a tendency to subscribe to the Rule of Gross Tonnage, to the exclusion of the actual rules that should dictate their actions. Just because the other guy is bigger is no reason to screw around "trying to stay out of his way". The rules are there for good reason. Do what's expected, by the rules. Reduce confusion.
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Old 08-04-2017, 02:55 PM   #18
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There seems to be among recreational boaters a tendency to subscribe to the Rule of Gross Tonnage, to the exclusion of the actual rules that should dictate their actions. Just because the other guy is bigger is no reason to screw around "trying to stay out of his way". The rules are there for good reason. Do what's expected, by the rules. Reduce confusion.
In the harbor near me there are two channels. The rest of the harbor varies from deep enough for most recreational boats to deep enough for a canoe. A cargo ship, tanker or cruise liner must stay in one of those channels and cannot readily stop. If you (in a recreational boat) decide to assert your imagined right of way or "stand on vessel status", you should be prepared to swim to shore.
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Old 08-04-2017, 04:01 PM   #19
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AIS usually helps me decide well in advance if there is an evolving issue with commercial traffic. I find that when in doubt about who is give way or stand on vessel, a quick call on the VTS channel to the vessel in question quickly resolves any confusion usually with a "thanks for the call". I'd rather do that then receive 5 blasts of the horn.
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Old 08-04-2017, 04:25 PM   #20
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In the harbor near me there are two channels. The rest of the harbor varies from deep enough for most recreational boats to deep enough for a canoe. A cargo ship, tanker or cruise liner must stay in one of those channels and cannot readily stop. If you (in a recreational boat) decide to assert your imagined right of way or "stand on vessel status", you should be prepared to swim to shore.

Wes,
Perhaps you miscontrued my point. If I'm in a recreational boat and follow the rules, there is no "imagined right of way", there are the rules.

My point was that not following the rules in a misguided effort to stay out of the way of a larger vessel can result in unclear interpretation of your intentions and simply confuse the situation. As in... "what's this guy doing??".. Rule 8 applies. Better to follow the rules so the other vessel can reasonably anticipate your actions. If there's a situation where clarification of intentions is needed, then the VHF can head off a close quarters situation.

Aaannd... I am fully aware that a large majority of the recreational boaters out there are oblivious to the rules. That said, just because Joe weekender doesn't abide by the rules it doesn't give everyone else justification to abandon them.
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