Crewdata guidance : Accident / Dangerous occurrence investigation


The Master must report every accident as quickly as possible by fastest available means of  communication.  Company  Standard  form  “Ship Managers-V.506  –  Initial  Reporting  of Accident” must be used when sending by email, fax or telex. This report should be made to the Company and relevant authorities.

The attention of Masters and Officers is drawn to the gathering information such as Record Keeping and Preserving Evidence.


When  there  is  a  serious  casualty,  e.g.  loss,  including  presumed  loss,  stranding,grounding, abandonment or damage to the ship, loss of life, serious personal injury and fire, the owner or  Master shall, within 24 hours of arrival at the next port or as soon as practicable, send to the Flag State Marine Administration a brief description of the incident stating the time and place where it occurred, ships name, official number, port of registry, probable cause, particulars of cargo and nature and extent of damage.

The Prevention of Oil Pollution Acts requires the Master to make an entry in the oil record book whenever oil escapes from the ship.


Damage or loss resulting from a collision will almost certainly be the subject of subsequent litigation and/or arbitration. It is probable too, that an official enquiry into the causes of the collision will in due course be held.

(a)          When collecting evidence Master’s attention is drawn to the following advice:

  • In the event of his ship being involved in a collision with any other vessel, the Master is obliged by the Merchant Shipping Acts of Crewdata to communicate with the Master of the other vessel to ascertain whether he requires assistance of any kind.
  • In order to protect the Company’s interests, the master must also send a message or letter to the other vessel at the earliest opportunity stating briefly that a collision has occurred and that he holds the Master and owners of the other vessel responsible for the accident. This notice must be sent whatever the circumstances of the collision.
  • Despatch of this letter or message should be carefully recorded and an acknowledgement of receipt obtained if possible.

(b)         Facts and Records

The time and position of collision must be established as accurately as possible.
A note should be kept of the means used to fix the vessel’s position together with compass bearings, distances, Sat-Nav co-ordinates, soundings, dead reckoning calculations and other relevant information. The heading of the ship at the time of the collision must also be established as accurately as possible.

Errors in the bridge clock or discrepancy between bridge and engine room clocks or recorders should be stated.

The greatest importance is given by the Courts to anything written at or about the time the events occurred. This usually takes the form of the deck log book, engine room records, papers with times and calculations, etc. Entries made subsequent to the collision should be clearly identified as such.

Such evidence must be carefully preserved. Immediately following a collision the Master must impound all logbooks, printouts, charts and relevant papers and commence new ones. The Master must ensure that positions and courses recorded prior to the incident are not erased or obliterated from charts or transparent covers which have to remain in use.

Radar plots should be similarly preserved, particular care being taken not to interfere with any marks on the reflection plotter.

Any recording devices, such as the echo sounder, must be marked with date and time the information was recorded (not necessarily the time of collision) and initialled by the Officer so marking them. The relevant sections of any such records must not be cut from the roll. The complete roll should be removed to preserve the credibility of the record.

Names and ranks of duty personnel and any other witnesses should be recorded.

Normally the circumstances of a collision will be investigated by the Company and/or its solicitors before the matter comes before a Court or Official Enquiry. The Master therefore should not attempt to interrogate potential witnesses himself as this may lead to confusion.

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