Sunday, March 22, 2009
The value of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) has been underlined again with the collision between a yacht and a ship off the southern coast of England. Falmouth Coastguard has co-ordinated a call out to help a yacht which was hit by a cargo vessel in fog 15 miles south east of Lizard Point. The station received the call from the crew of the yacht called Maelys at around midday. The Lizard RNLI Lifeboat was launched and a Royal Navy helicopter with a salvage pump on board was scrambled. Using its AIS (Automatic Identification System) the coastguard was able to identify the ship near to the position given by the yacht's crew. This was identified as a small cargo vessel called Helen, eighty metres long. The six crew on board admitted that their ship had hit the yacht.
MV HelenThe ship was on passage to Bonnieres and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been notified. The 34-foot long yacht had just been bought. It was on its way from the UK to France with two crew on board who are both French. No one was injured but the yacht’s hull is damaged. At first the crew said they would carry on to France but they then decided to heed the coastguard’s advice and return to Falmouth to have the yacht properly assessed. Henry Purbrick, watch manager at Falmouth said: 'We are pleased that everyone is safe and well, given that this situation could have had a different outcome. “The collision danger is ever present in poor visibility, all vessels are reminded to keep a sharp lookout at all times and to only make their journey if strictly necessary.' Here is another incident in which, had the yacht had an AIS on board, even in thick fog, they could have been aware of the presence of the cargo ship.