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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Bad navigation costs lives

Wed 10 Jan 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Bad navigation costs lives

Editor Martyn Wingrove highlights how bad ship navigation causes fatal accidents

2018 should be the year when shipping improves safety, but already we have had our first two fatal vessel collisions.

Ten seafarers lost their lives in a ship collision and sinking in the East China Sea. Cargo ship Chang Ping sank when it collided with freighter Xinwang 138 near the Yangtze estuary off Shanghai, in China.

It is not yet known why the ships collided, but if one was stationary at the time, then clearly the fault should be with the sailing ship and its bridge team. It looks like a deadly navigation accident that should have been avoided and should never be repeated.

Less clear is what caused Iranian tanker Sanchi to collide with Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in a similar area at the weekend.

All 32 crew on Sanchi were missing, presumed dead, but the 21 Chinese crew on CF Crystal were rescued. This can be seen as another deadly accident that should have been avoided. However, the causes of these incidents are still under investigation.

We would hope that as more ships use electronic navigation aids, especially ECDIS, that collisions and ship groundings should become a thing of the past. But, as the daily reports of accidents, collisions, engine failures, allusions and groundings demonstrate, this is not possible.

2018 should be the year that shipping finally gets to grips with the challenges of improving navigation safety. For the sake of our seafarers, letís hope the two Chinese disasters are the only ones for the year.

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