The Master should report the collision to the Owners immediately, although his first priority is to secure the safety of the crew on both his own and the counterpart vessel and mitigate any consequences, such as pollution to the environment. As soon as possible, the Master should inform the Owners of the following:
Position and time of collision
Existence of casualties and their condition
Any danger to those on board, to the vessel, and to the cargo
Name and home port of the other vessel
Nature and extent of damage to own vessel and, if possible, to the other vessel as well
The seaworthiness of the vessel – is she capable of continuing the voyage unassisted, or is it necessary to enter a port of refuge or to call in salvage or towing assistance
Weather conditions and the forecast for the next couple of days
If danger is imminent and the master is unable to obtain instructions from the Owner, he must use his own discretion and do everything possible to protect human lives, and the ship.
In the event of a collision, necessary safety arrangements must be made to protect the crew and vessel, and to ensure that sufficient information can be provided in the subsequent handling of the case. Precise documentation of all communication and log entries (e.g. navigational records, etc.) surrounding a collision is extremely important for accident reporting and forthcoming evaluations, including:
Position and time of collision
Name, Homeport and type of the vessel collided with
Collision angle, course and speed at the time of collision
The course and speed of own vessel and any alterations of course and speed, and the times thereof, after first sighting the other vessel
Bearings and distances to the other vessel and the times thereof, since first sighting the other vessel
Course and speed of the other vessel and any alterations of course and speed, and the times thereof, after first sighting the other vessel
Observations about the closest point of approach (CPA)
Any VHF contact
Measures taken to avoid collision, on the part of own vessel and the colliding vessel
Secure copy of the VDR data
Weather, currents and visibility
Lights showed by the two vessels and signals given
Check of the engine room clocks against the bridge
Photographs of damage to own vessel, and other vessel if possible
Please note: All information, both written and electronic, must be saved for later use. Chart information at the time of the accident should be saved ‘as is’. The manoeuvring log, course-, rudder angle-, radar-, engine-, engine alarm-, and AIS/VDR recordings should be secured electronically or as a paper printout. Note the time of collision on the recorder tapes. If a pilot has been on board, a copy of his report must be secured.
The Master should instruct officers and crew not to make statements to unauthorised persons regarding the circumstances of the collision. If the authorities order statements to be made, please consult the Owners immediately.
As soon as possible, the Master of the other vessel or her Owners/agent should be held liable in writing for any costs arising as a consequence of the collision. The master shall in this respect seek guidance from the owners. Once the vessel has reached port, the third party should be summoned for a joint survey of the damages.