What failure has taught me

Let’s go back some 18 years in time. The local time was 03.10. I was standing my watch as a Second Officer on a large container vessel, bound for Irago Pilot Station in Japan in the next 90 minutes. On a container ship bound for a Japanese port, the concept of ‘estimated time of arrival’ actually means accurate time of arrival. Arriving earlier and holding ground near the pilot station is not an option either. Precision is the name of the game. Traffic is usually quite dense in this area. On this occasion the weather was bad, and visibility was down to about 3 miles. We were approximately 20 miles from the pilot boarding grounds with two vessels headed on a parallel course – a car carrier on the port bow and a Taiwanese container vessel on the starboard quarter. Both vessels were on the same course at approximately the same speed of 20 knots, positioned at a distance of about one mile from us. The trouble started at this point. 

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