Whatever Happened to Situational Awareness?

Published on November 30th, 2018

by Peter A. Janssen, Cruising Odyssey
Is anybody paying attention out there? A few alarming, and tragic, events recently make that question all too relevant.

The most recent, and glaring, accident involved the collision of the 332-foot megayacht Attessa IV, one of the largest private yachts in the world, with a 65-foot wooden charter boat named Prowler, in the Pacific south of San Diego. The Coast Guard airlifted a seriously injured passenger off Prowler (see the picture above), but he died four hours later in a San Diego hospital.

The Coast Guard is investigating the accident, but the question is, how did this ever happen? Both boats had radar, and Prowler, as a commercial vessel 65 feet or more, was required to have AIS. On a working radar, the steel hull of Attessa IV should have lit up like a battleship; it would be hard not to see it coming. Yet there was no warning from either vessel before the collision in the open ocean nine miles off Imperial Beach.

At the time, Attessa IV was heading for Mexico. Prowler was heading back to San Diego. Attessa IV ran into the starboard quarter of Prowler, causing extensive damage. It’s hard to conceive that nobody on either yacht saw the other one coming. – Full report

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