Texas has busy ports and plenty of maritime traffic, so avoiding accidents is a crucial part of successfully navigating in the area. Unfortunately, accidents and collisions do occur, and these moments illustrate how to make the seas safer. Usually, the biggest problem is failing to communicate.
The Pappy’s Pride
The Pappy’s Pride was a small commercial fishing boat that collided with a tanker in a channel off the coast of Galveston. The captain and two crew members died with one crew member surviving.
The channel was under thick fog. The tanker hailed the boat on radio multiple times and also blew warning signals multiple times. However, the fishing boat did not respond to the radio or to the warnings and did not blow its own fog signal. After passing into the fog, the fishing boat collided with the tanker and capsized. While it is not clear why the fishing boat failed to communicate, that failure led to the accident.
The importance of communication
Ships often face hazardous conditions and limited visibility. Open and frequent communication in accordance with maritime standards is key as is ensuring that all equipment is functioning. When there is a maritime accident, there is usually an investigation by the authorities as well as the potential for lawsuits to resolve the outcome.
The size and difficulty of maneuvering vessels at sea, coupled with the complex laws governing how ships interact, mean that such interactions are fraught with risk physically as well as legally. Maritime commerce has its own set of regulators and oversight systems to provide additional guidance to how ships should communicate and behave with each other.