Preventing Collisions at Sea

Collisions in the high sea are very common. Some are minor and some are absolutely devastating. We are now going to discuss a little about this. Very less has been written about these. However, the matter is a serious one. Lots of lives and money are lost in these collisions. The IMO (international maritime organization) has made quite a few regulations to prevent collisions in the sea.

The year was 1972 when they published COLREGs also known as International regulations for preventing collision at sea. They are like the rules of the road for the ships and vessels in the sea. All the vessels need to follow them. They have played a very vital role in prevention of these collisions. There are set rules for the coastal water ways and inland waterways. These set rules are what all vessels need to follow. They cannot afford to not follow these. A slight deviation can cause a lot of danger to the life on board. Some countries have their own specified rules that are an extension to the coastal water rules set by IMO. They follow these and if any vessel is in that region that have to follow those additional rules.

The sea is a dangerous place and has a huge traffic. The fickle weather conditions make it a more difficult terrain to control. These rules that are set are just an attempt to make the sea a safer place. In the United States the inland water rules are published along with the international rules. Even European countries have their own set of rules. Well today we can discuss these different rules. However, few years back this difference in rule was the actual reason for the huge number of collisions that were happening. Every country had a different rule for everything from navigation lights to navigation marks. This made the sea a more hazardous place and also ensured that something is done to get an international standard in place to control this.

It was realised that even the best of mechanics and technology cannot ensure that accidents are minimum if there is no standard rules set. Who else could do this job other than the IMO itself? These rules have been amended from time to time to accommodate new changes and make them more comprehensive and acceptable to all. The member companies have adopted these rules. However, implementing these is not such an easy task. The IMO has an authorised agency or a federal body appointed in the member nations who ensure that the IMO regulations that are about a four dozen rules are followed in these countries and the regulation is done. These set of rules must be followed by the vessels that operate from these countries. Any violation or any collision needs to be reported and the required actions are taken to ensure that the guilty is punished. This also helps you to understand how these regulations can be made better. These rules of COLREGs or International regulations for preventing collision at sea were originally proposed by the IMO can be found in any website.

The latest version and the updated version are easily available. Each country has published it in their very own language and has their own version. Some also state how these rules were made what were behind making them. Even diagrams are included in few cases. The version used in United Kingdom is called MSN (Maritime and Coastguard agency) also called MCA. There are similar versions in other countries. Now that we know the history of the collisions in the sea and the damage that it caused. This inspired the IMO to come up with these rules that are enlisted in the COLREGs. We shall discuss a little bit on what these rules state that ensures that the collisions in the sea are barest minimum and the vessels follow these rules.

The rules may seem simple and basic but they if not followed can cause the worst accidents. The first and foremost of all is that the person should know what exactly the rules of COLREGs state. They must know these before they operate the ship. Copies must be present in the vessel so that people can refer to those from time to time. The authorities in the ship must understand these rules and also know how important it is to follow them. These authorities must be informed of the liability that they may face in case these rules are not followed. Right to way is a good point in these rules. It states that if two vessels are colliding o �hwP���b mariner has understood the concept. Whenever one wants to apply for another post they need to be prepared to get quizzed about the STCW codes. This is how important the code is considered. Let us clarify few more things about the STCW here.


Each country has a different STCW. This is because they follow different licence and COC norms. The STCW training is given in the country of licence itself. The course is a standard one and the same syllabus and training procedure is followed across the world. This gives the STCW a standard form. The IMO regulates these courses. The member states of IMO keep updating it about these from time to time and can also recommend if they feel some changes must be made to these courses. All the white list nations follow these codes. Even the non-white list nations ensure that their mariners are trained in these codes else they will not be allowed to take up international voyages and not be granted entry into the foreign waters.

The training measures that all the countries have taken to ensure that a standard is maintained in the marine safety must be appreciated and acknowledged. These trainings have been able to ensure that good safety standards are maintained in the sea and the sea becomes a safer place to be in not only for the mariners but also for the passengers who take luxury cruises. I hope we were able to answer few of your questions that you had about the basic STCW courses. Well these are very essential courses and all must follow the steps mentioned above to enrol for these courses and to keep updating your knowledge from time to time. This makes it clear that how important it actually is to be aware of these STCW codes for all mariners. These are like the basic survival tricks that all must know before they leave for the high sea. Do take these courses seriously and appreciate that this knowledge can help you in the most difficult of situations. This is a knowledge that can help you to save not only your life, but also the lives of others in the ship. All the best and hope you will always have a safe voyage always.

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