A common mistake we often see when reviewing or auditing SMS manual is the grouping of procedures, in particular emergency procedures.
The most common one we see is the grouping together of collision and grounding which sometimes often includes flooding! Let’s look at them individually.
Collisions are when a vessel comes into contact with:
- Another vessel
- Navigational aids including beacons, poles and markers
- A wharf, pontoon or other structure
- An oyster lease or other aquaculture facility
- A marine creature such a whale, etc.
A collision can best be described as hitting or colliding with a solid object such as another vessel, navigational aid, infrastructure or a marine creature!
Collisions, in the most part are avoidable by ensuring a proper lookout is maintained at all times when underway and at anchor!
Underway means when not secured to a marina or pole berth, mooring or at anchor. You are underway even if you not secured to any of the items above and do not have your motor running!
A grounding can be described as a vessel coming into contact with:
- the mainland
- an island
- coral reef
- sand or mud bank.
A grounding can be described as running into a land mass, reef or sand or mud bank!
Groundings as with collisions are avoidable when a proper lookout is maintained in conjunction with good navigational practice.
Good navigational practice means either local knowledge or consulting the chart for the area where you are operating.
By consulting the chart, you will be able to identify all areas where potential grounding may occur and avoid the embarrassment of being left high and dry.
So now I hope you can differentiate between a collision and a grounding and realise that there a two separate procedures required.
The other interesting thing is we often see flooding grouped with collision and grounding. While flooding can occur in either of these incidents it is again a separate procedure and should not be grouped together with other procedures.
We recommend you check your SMS to ensure that collision and grounding (and flooding) are not grouped together in one procedure. If they are you need to separate them and develop individual collision and grounding procedures.
When developing a grounding procedure, we recommend you take into account the seabed structures in your areas of operations and reference how you re-float your vessel.
Ensure you are familiar with the areas you operate in including local sea life, navigational aids, infrastructure, land masses, reefs and shallow water areas.