THE INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS FOR PREVENTING COLLISIONS AT SEA 1972 PART A. GENERAL
With amendments adopted from November 1995 Rule 1 Application (a) These rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels. (b) Nothing in these rules shall interfere with the operation of special rules made by an appropriate authority for roadsteads, harbours, rivers, lakes or inland waterways connected with the high seas and navigable by seagoing vessels. Such special rules shall conform as closely as possible to these rules. (c) Nothing in these rules shall interfere with the operation of any special rules made by the Government of any State with respect to additional station or signal lights, shapes or whistle signals for ships of war and vessels proceeding under convoy, or with respect to additional station or signal lights or shapes for fishing vessels engaged in fishing as a fleet. These additional station or signal lights, shapes or whistles shall, so far as possible, be such that they cannot be mistaken for any light, shape or signal authorised elsewhere under these rules. (d) Traffic separation schemes may be adopted by the Organisation for the purpose of these rules. (e) Whenever the Government concerned shall have determined that a vessel of special construction or purpose cannot comply fully with the provision of any of these rules with respect to the number, position, range or arc of visibility of lights or shapes, as well as to the disposition and characteristics of sound-signalling appliances, without interfering with the special function of the vessel, such vessel shall comply with such other provisions in regard to the number, position, range or arc of visibility of lights or shapes, as well as to the disposition and characteristics of sound-signalling appliances, as her Government shall have determined to be the closest possible compliance with these rules in respect to that vessel. Rule 2 Responsibility (a) Nothing in these rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these rules or of the neglect of any precautions which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case. (b) In construing and complying with these rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these rules necessary to avoid immediate danger. Rule 3 General definitions (a) The word "vessel" includes every description of watercraft, including non-displacement
craft and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. (b)The term "power-driven vessel" means any vessel propelled by machinery.
(c) The term "sailing vessel" means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery if fitted, is not being used. (d) The term "vessel engaged in fishing" means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls or other fishing apparatus which restricts manoeuvrability, but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus which do not restrict manoeuvrability. (e) The term "seaplane" includes any aircraft designed to manoeuvre on the water. (f) The term "vessel not under command" means a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to manoeuvre as required by these rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. (g) The term "vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre" means a vessel which from the nature of her work is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre as required by these rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. The term "vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre" shall include but not be limited to: (i) a vessel engaged in laying, servicing or picking up a navigation mark, submarine cable or pipeline; (ii) a vessel engaged in dredging, surveying or underwater operations; (iii) a vessel engaged in replenishment or transferring persons, provisions or cargo while underway; (iv) a vessel engaged in launching or recovery of aircraft; (v) a vessel engaged in mine clearance operations; (vi) a vessel engaged in a towing operation such as severely restricts the towing vessel and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course. (h) The term " vessel constrained by her draught" means a power-driven vessel which because of her draught in relation to the available depth of water is severely restricted in her ability to deviate from the course she is following. (i) The word "underway" means that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground. (j) The words "length" and "breadth" of a vessel mean her length overall and greatest breadth. (k) Vessel shall be deemed to be in sight of one another only when one can be observed visually from the other. (l) The term "restricted visibility" means any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms or any other similar causes.
PART B. STEERING AND SAILING RULES
Section 1. Conduct of vessels in any condition of visibility. Rule 4 Application
Rules in this section apply in any conditions of visibility.
Rule 5 Lookout Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and or the risk of collision. Rule 6 Safe speed Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid a collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions. In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken in to account: (a) By all vessels. (i) the state of visibility; (ii) the traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels; (iii) the manoeuvrability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability in the prevailing conditions; (iv) at night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter of her own lights; (v) the state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards; (vi) the draught in relation to the available depth of water. (b) Additionally, by vessels with operational radar: (i) the characteristics, efficiency and limitations of the radar equipment; (ii) any constraints imposed by the radar range scale in use; (iii) the effect on radar detection of the sea state, weather and other sources of interference; (iv) the possibility that small vessels, ice and other large floating objects may not be detected by radar at an adequate range; (v) the number, location and movements of vessels detected by radar; (vi) the more exact assessment of the visibility that may be possible when radar is used to determine the range of vessels or other objects in the vicinity. Rule 7 Risk of collision. (a) Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there as any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.
(b) Proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational, including long-range scanning to obtain early warning of risk of collision and radar plotting or equivalent systematic observations of detected objects.
(c) Assumptions shall not be made on the basis of scanty information, especially scanty radar information. (d) In determining if risk of collision exists the following considerations shall be among those taken into account. (i) Such risk shall be deemed to exist it the compass bearing of an approaching vessel does not appreciably change. (ii) Such risk may sometimes exist even when an appreciable bearing change is evident, particularly when approaching a very large vessel or a tow or when approaching a vessel at close range. Rule 8 Action to avoid a collision. (a) Any action taken to avoid a collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship. (b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided. (c) If there is sufficient sea room, alteration of course alone may be the most effective action to avoid a close-quarters situation provided that it is made in good time, is substantial and does not result in another close-quarters situation. (d) Action taken to avoid a collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel in finally past and clear. (e) If necessary to avoid collision of allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion. (f) (i) A vessel which, by any of these Rules, is required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel shall, when required by the circumstances of the case, take early action to allow sufficient sea room for the safe passage of the other vessel. (ii) A vessel required not to impede the passage or safe passage of another vessel is not relieved of this obligation if approaching the other vessel so as to involve risk of collision and shall, when taking action, have full regard to the action which may be required by the Rules of this part. (iii) A vessel, the passage of which is not to be impeded remains fully obliged to comply with the Rules of this part when the two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve risk of collision. Rule 9 Narrow channels. (a) A vessel proceeding along the course of a narrow channel or fairway shall keep as near to the outer limit or the channel or fairway which lies on her starboard side as is safe and practicable.
(b) A vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway.
(c) A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any other vessel navigating within a narrow channel or fairway. (d) A vessel shall not cross a narrow channel or fairway if such crossing impedes the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within such channel or fairway. The latter vessel may use the sound signal prescribed in Rule 34 (d) if in doubt as to the intention of the crossing vessel. (e) (i) In a narrow channel or fairway when overtaking can only take place if the vessel to be overtaken has to take action to permit safe passing, the vessel intending to overtake shall indicate her intention by sounding the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34 (c) (i). The vessel to be overtaken shall, if in agreement, sound the appropriate signal prescribed by Rule 34 (c) (ii) and take steps to permit safe passing. If in doubt she may sound the signals prescribed in Rule 34 (d). (ii) This rule does not relieve the overtaking boat of her obligation under Rule 13. (f) A vessel nearing a bend or an area of narrow channel or fairway where other vessels may be obscured by an intervening obstruction shall navigate with particular alertness and caution and shall sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34 (e). (g) Any vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid anchoring in a narrow channel. Rule 10 Traffic separation schemes. (a) This rule applies to traffic separation schemes adopted by the organisation and does not relieve any vessel of her obligation under any other Rule: (b) A vessel using a traffic separation scheme shall: (i) proceed in the appropriate traffic lane in the general direction of traffic flow for that lane; (ii) so far as practicable keep clear of a traffic separation line or separation zone; (iii) Normally join or leave a traffic lane at the termination of the lane, but when joining or leaving from either side shall do so at as small an angle to the general direction of traffic flow as practicable. (c) A vessel shall so far as practicable avoid crossing traffic lanes, but if obliged to do so shall cross as nearly as practicable at right angles to the general direction of traffic flow. (d) (i) Inshore traffic zones shall not normally be used by through traffic which can safely use the appropriate traffic lane within the adjacent traffic separation scheme. However, vessels of less than 20m in length, sailing vessels and vessels engaged in fishing may under all circumstances use inshore traffic zones. (ii) Notwithstanding subparagraph (d) (i), a vessel may use an inshore traffic zone when en route to or from a port, offshore installation or structure, pilot station or any other place situated within the inshore traffic zone, or to avoid immediate danger. (e) A vessel other than a crossing vessel or a vessel joining or leaving a lane shall not
normally enter a separation zone or cross a separation line except: (i) In cases of emergency to avoid immediate danger.
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