Transport Malta investigation: Collision of tanker with fishing vessel leads to fatality

The incident

On 04 September 2019, the managers of MT Kanala notified the MSIU that Kanala had been in a collision with a fishing vessel in position 39° 02ʹ N 120° 49ʹ E (Bohai Sea, China). Kanala, laden with a full cargo of gasoline was en route to Sakai, Japan.

Following the collision, the Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) of the People’s Republic of China instructed the master to alter course and anchor at Laotieshan Anchorage, China in order to carry out an investigation.

Preliminary information indicated that FV Liaodanyu 23626 was engaged in pair trawling with sister FV Liaodanyu 23625. Both fishing vessels were making way at three knots. Just before the collision, FV Liaodanyu 23625 cast off the trawling gear.

The safety investigation established that when Kanala was about to pass the fishing vessels, FV Liaodanyu 23626 crossed the bow with the trawling gear trailing behind it.

Kanala snagged the trailing gear which resulted in the fishing vessel foundering with the loss of one person on board.


Probable causes

The foundering of FV Liaodanyu 23626 was attributed to the loss of reserve buoyancy.



  1. Although applicable standing orders allowed wide course alterations, the OOW proceeded along the planned course;
  2. The situation may have been perceived under control and manageable, whilst the circumstances did not warrant large course deviation, reduction of speed and / or the need to call the master;
  3. For most of the time, the OOW must have been stationed at the steering console, relying on look-out and his own assessment of the situation for evasive action;
  4. The absence of the master from the bridge may have also had a bearing on the outcome of the events;
  5. FV Liaodanyu 23626 was not displaying lights for a vessel engaged in trawling or pair trawling;
  6. The third officer had not anticipated one of the fishing vessel would attempt to run across the bow;
  7. The audio records confirmed that at regular intervals, the AB was calling out the position and movement of the fishing vessels.


Actions taken

Procedures for navigating in Bohai Sea and the East coast of China were revised. Additional control measures were introduced, addressing the risk of encountering dense fishing traffic and actions required by the officers on watch. The master was instructed to include in standing / night orders course deviation of up to 15 nm from planned track to avoid fishing traffic.

The OOW was briefed on the use of radar, calling master, navigational officer, lookout / helmsperson, whenever a situation necessitated their presence on the bridge. The master and third officer were required to attend training and simulation courses on navigational safety.

The Company planned seminars with senior officers and onboard audits to ensure that safe navigational practices were adhered to by all navigational officers.



In view of the conclusions reached and taking into consideration the safety actions taken during the course of the safety investigation, China Maritime Safety Administration is recommended to issue an information notice to the fishing industry to highlight:

  • the importance of exhibiting lights and signals in accordance with the requirements of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972; and
  • the dangers of carrying out fishing activities in close proximity of shipping lanes.


Explore more in the following report:

MT Kanala Report

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