Collision between fishing vessel Natalie and unlit barge towed by tug Bay Protector

Location: Off south west coast of England.

Completed PE Summary: Natalie/Bay Protector

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Fishing Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Natalie
Registered Owner/Manager Privately owned
Port of Registry Fowey
Flag UK
Type Fish catching/processing
Built 1990
Length Overall 11:35m
Gross Tonnage 15.71
Date and Time 12/08/06, 2117
Location of Incident English coastal waters
Incident Type Collision
Persons Onboard 2 crew
Injuries/ Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution Minor damage/None
Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Bay Protector
Category Merchant
Registered Owner/Manager Torbay and Brixham Shipping Agents
Port of Registry Brixham
Flag UK
Type Tug
Built 1967
Classification Society Bureau Veritas
Construction Steel
Length Overall 26.19m
Gross Tonnage 114.00
Date and Time 12/08/06, 2117
Location of Incident English coastal waters
Incident Type Collision
Persons Onboard 4 crew
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution None


On a dark night with good visibility the fv Natalie collided with an unlit barge being towed by the tug Bay Protector. Natalie was damaged by the collision but there were no injuries and she was able to return to port under her own power, with a lifeboat escort.

Both vessels made assumptions based on scanty information when assessing if risk of collision existed, which resulted in neither vessel taking sufficient action, in ample time, to avoid the collision.

The tug, which was restricted in her ability to deviate easily from her course, failed to display the lights and shapes to indicate this and also failed to give any warning, through appropriate VHF broadcasts, that the lights on the barge it was towing had failed.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the owners of Bay Protector to acknowledge the actions they have taken since the collision and to advise them to review the following:

  • Carriage of lights and shapes as required by Rule 27 (c).

  • Use of “securite” broadcasts to advise shipping in the area when exceptional circumstances occur (lights failed on tow)

The Chief Inspector has also written to the owner/ skipper of both vessels to ensure that, in future, they use all available means to assess if risk of collision exists and avoid making assumptions which may be based on scanty information.

Published 23 January 2015