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What causes maritime collisions?

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2023 | Maritime Claims

There are many common causes of maritime injuries that you are probably familiar with. Accidents from drowning, falling, fires or malfunctioning equipment can cause serious or long-term injuries. Another common cause of maritime injuries that could be overlooked is collisions with another vessel while at sea.

You might wonder how vessels manage to collide while out on the open waters. It is natural to assume that the vessel’s crew should have enough time to see each other and properly navigate their ships to avoid a collision, but this does not always happen and ships do sometimes collide at sea.

Types of maritime collisions

There are several types of maritime collisions. Vessels can be struck on the side by another vessel, known as a side collision. A stern collision occurs when one vessel runs into the back of another, while a bow-on collision is when two vessels hit each other head-on. A vessel could also hit an object, such as a bridge, known as an allision.

However, there are various factors that can increase the chance of a collision. Remember that the open sea is not like the roads and highways that you are used to when you are on land.

There are no specific lanes for each vessel to travel in, no traffic signals, stop signs or streetlights. The open waters are dark and unpredictable, especially when it comes to weather.

Bad weather such as storms, fog or high winds can cause a collision because it makes navigating the vessel difficult and makes it hard to see other vessels. Equipment failure is another common cause of maritime collisions. A ship’s engine might fail or other equipment could malfunction, making navigating the ship impossible.

Some collisions are caused by human error. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons that ships collide while at sea. Confusion over maritime traffic schemes or simple negligence can result in a collision.

Ways to avoid a collision

Mariners should know their vessels inside and out and be thoroughly trained in how to navigate. Although there are no traffic laws at sea, there are certain internationally accepted standards of behavior that should be followed to avoid a collision.

The crew navigating your ship should understand these rules and adhere to them. Doing so can significantly decrease the chance of a collision.

Overall, the best way to avoid a collision is to make sure the crew is properly trained and ready to safely navigate the vessel and watch the sea for vessels and other potential hazards.

Additionally, crewmembers should get enough sleep while onboard to make sure they are fully alert to safely perform their duties.

Two ships colliding can be devastating for those involved and have tragic results. Collisions also often have negative environmental consequences.

When you suffer an injury while at sea due to a maritime collision, the Jones Act permits you to file a claim for compensation if your injury was due to negligence. The negligence could be on the part of your fellow crew members, the captain or the vessel’s owner.