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Friday, May 14, 2010

J Friend collides with MSC Tomoko off Shantou

I had earlier posted an article on ‘collision’ of vessels. Driving in congested cities is becoming more and more difficult. Chennai roads, bylanes, autorickshaws, two wheelers all are unique – it is not steering a SUV in a free way. Chennai has place for everybody, the MTC buses, cars, variety of 2 wheelers, autos and rickety goods carrying vehicles – all respect each other providing some space ! – they jump signals with precision, as you near the signal and see red about to come, vehicles from behind would pass in a jiffy. If you are waiting patiently at a signal, the instant green is about to appear – many would zip past you at breakneck speed.
Overtaking of passing is the act of driving around another slower automobile on road. As a rule, vehicles are overtaken by driving past them on the right, after signalling them that you are about to pass by. On Air and at sea, things could be far different. Those highly sophisticated vessels are not dependent on the vision and manual skill – Navigation is more of the process of reading and controlling the movement by technological aids. The word navigate is derived from Latin. The word ‘Navi’ in Sanskrit means boat and ‘Gathi’ means direction.

Modern movement is with the help of gadgets. From magnetic compasses, things have moved a long way to Radio navigation – application of radio frequencies to determine a position on the earth. The basic principles are those of direction, distance, ranging, velocity etc., Marine radar systems provide very useful navigation information in a variety of situations. When the vessel is within radar range of land or special radar aids to navigation, the navigator can take distances and angular bearings to charted objects and use these to establish arcs of position and lines of position on a chart GNSS or Global Navigation Satellite systems is all about systems that provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage. Electronic receivers determine the location by longitude, latitude and altitude with precision.

At Sea there are specified rules for ‘ Overtaking’ which specify that the vessel overtaking shall keep out of the way of the vessel being over taken; A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22,5 degrees abaft her beam, that is, in such a position with reference to the vessel she is overtaking, that at night she would be able to see only the sternlight of that vessel but neither of her sidelights.

With all this, it is extremely hard to collide at sea than on land, as there are no blind curves, things do not move faster than a bicycle but collisions are not rare.

In the North Atlantic Ocean, considered second biggest ocean, at an undisclosed depth, the British nuclear submarine Vanguard and the French nuclear submarine Le Triomphant ran into each other. Both boats were “boomers,” missile-firing submarines carrying sixteen ballistic missiles, each of which can deliver several nuclear warheads at intercontinental range. At vast expanse of sea, at low speeds with navigational aids – both erred. An active sonar device would detect everything on and below the surface for many miles around but perhaps they too could be detected. Collision unfortunately did occur.

This month in the Eastern Guangdong off Shantou bulk carrier J Friend (1984 built, 21456gt Hong Kong flag bulk carrier with container capacity, on a voyage from India) collided with a much bigger 94489 GT panama flagged container vessel 2006 built MSC Tomoko. J Friend was carrying 35000MT Iron Ore bound for Shantou, and her previous ports included New Mangalore, while MSC TOMOKO

had previously called at Long Beach, USA. The massive Tomoko at 332.40m length and 43.20m width, would displace 107,500 tons. Her MAN B&W 12K98MEC engine accelerates the ship to a maximum speed of 25.4 knots.

Due to the impact, water flooded into No.1 & 2 holds of J Friend but the bigger one die not suffer much damages and presently there is no mentions of containers damaged or falling over board. In many such situations, the services of Salvors are sought and there could be declaration of GA or for salvage charges.

For common consumption, The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS) published by the International Maritime Organization(IMO) sets out the "rules of the road" to be followed by ships and other vessels at sea. Although rules for navigating vessels inland may differ, the international rules specify that they should be as closely in line with the international rules as possible. Rule no. 6 is about Safe speed which states that Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.

In determining a safe speed some of factors to be reckoned include : The state of visibility; the traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels; the manoeuvrability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability in the prevailing conditions; . at night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter other own lights; . the state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards; the draught in relation to the available depth of water.

With regards – S Sampathkumar.

Courtesy : Collision news courtesy; Photo courtesy :


  1. Could you tell me more about this collision, and perhaps keep me posted, since my dad was on the MSC TOMOKO when this has happened!
    And as far as I know, MSC TOMOKO suffered damages as well. Thanx!

  2. Dear De Tigero

    Most of my information was from the web sources and I do not have any info specific.

    Regards - Sampath

  3. oh ok, thanx anyway!