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Maintain a Safe Navigational Watch

COLREGs (Explained)

INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS FOR PREVENTING COLLISIONS AT SEA, 1972


COLREGS
PART A - GENERAL
Rule 1
Application
These Rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith
navigable by seagoing vessels.
Meaning: All ships big or small are to follow the rules. Small yachts, fishing vessels and other
barges all as long they sail on the seas.
All waters connected to the high sea include: major rivers, which have ports on their banks and
which are visited by sea going vessels. All bays, and canals which are connected to the seas,
provided that they are sailed on by ocean going vessels.
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.
Meaning: A harbour or port authority or a country may make some special rules for their port
approaches or rivers or anchorage areas; in that case the COLREGS shall not cause confusion in
having opposing view to the rules. However the rules that a country or port makes shall not be
too dissimilar to the COLREGS
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 whistle signals shall, so far as possible, be such that
they cannot be mistaken for any light, shape or signal authorized elsewhere under these Rules.
Meaning: If a country has made any special rules which may make compulsory for ships and
boats to show additional station or signals or lights for warships or for fishing fleets, then these
special rules will again be such that they should not be confusing to a sea going vessel that is
they should not be similar to another signal in the COLREGS with a different meaning.
Traffic separation schemes may be adopted by the Organization for the purpose of these Rules.
Meaning: The IMO may decide at any time and place to impose a traffic separation scheme,
which would make it easier to navigate in a major traffic area. The above Traffic Separation
Schemes will be for the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of these COLREGS.
Whenever the Government concerned shall have determined that a vessel of special
construction or purpose cannot comply fully with the provisions 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-signaling appliances, 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-signaling appliances, as her Government
shall have determined to be the closest possible compliance with these Rules in respect of that
vessel.
Meaning: If a specially constructed ship (aircraft carrier), which due to the nature of the
equipment fitted does not have places where to fit the lights or shapes as required by the
COLREGS as specified in the annexes, then a government may allow these special ships to carry
their lights or shapes in a different place, but it shall make sure that these are the closest
deviation from the COLREGS. That is they are almost similar to those fitted on regular ships.
Rule 2
Responsibility
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 precaution,
which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the
case.
Meaning: There is no escaping the penalty of not following these rules. Everybody is responsible
and no excuses are permitted that I forgot etc. Also there are some practices which are followed
by seamen which may not be in the rules but they have been said and in use for many years, even
these are included in compliance. This rule was formulated after all the ordinary practice of
seamen were written down as part of these rules, but some of the ordinary practices which
may have been overlooked are covered by this rule.
Circumstances can dictate a deviation from these rules, like if the seaman thinks that by
following the rules in a special situation the action would endanger the ships, in that case a
deviation may be permitted which will not endanger the ships.
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.
Meaning: In understanding and then complying with these rules pay close attention to the
dangers of navigation and to the circumstances which may arise where blindly following these
rules may endanger the ships.
For this if required by common sense that to follow the rules would make a situation worse, then
an action may be taken which are different from these rules but would have ensured safety for
the vessels.
Rule 3
General Definitions
For the purpose of these Rules except where the context otherwise requires: -
The world 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.
Meaning: All types of craft that float on water and are used as a means of transportation. Also
included are crafts, which do not displace water such as hovercrafts. A seaplane when on the
water displaces water so as long as it is on the surface of water it is considered as a vessel. All
barges are also included since no propulsion system has been mentioned in this part of the Rule.
The term power driven vessel means any vessel propelled by machinery.
Meaning: Power here means power obtained from machinery, such as diesel engines, from the
smallest to the largest, sailing vessels are not included as long as they are purely under sail,
vessels under oars are also not included.
The term sailing vessel means any vessel under sail provides that propelling machinery, if
fitted is not being used.
Meaning: Sailing vessels of today rely to some form of machinery propulsion, that is when the
wind is calm and the sailing vessel is not moving the sailing vessels (some of them) have
provision for use of their main engine and propeller. So as long as this main engine on sailing
vessels is not used they are termed as sailing vessels, the moment their main engine is started
they are termed as power driven vessels, even if they hoist sails.
The term vessel engaged in fishing means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls or other
fishing apparatus which restrict maneuverability, but does not include a vessel fishing with
trolling lines or other fishing apparatus which do not restrict maneuverability.
Meaning: Fishing vessels means vessels actually fishing and which due to their equipment in the
water are unable to move away and keep clear of other vessels. If the fishing vessel is not fishing
or is using equipment, which does not restrict their taking evasive, action for safety then they are
not termed as fishing vessels. The equipment as specified under the Rules is nets, lines (long line
tuna fishing), trawls or other equipment, which are similar.
The word seaplane includes any aircraft designed to maneuver on the water.
Meaning: Obvious meaning, an aircraft which in an emergency is landing (ditching) in the water
would not be termed as a seaplane, only those planes which by their construction and purpose
can safely land, take off and manouevre to a pier or jetty are called seaplanes.
The term vessel not under command means a vessel which through some exceptional
circumstances is unable to manouevre as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep
out of the way of another vessel.
Meaning: Here a vessel not under command means any vessel, which because of some reason
cannot keep out of the way of other vessels. Like ME breakdown and she cannot anchor, steering
failure, launching a rescue boat or a lifeboat.
The term vessel restricted in her ability to manouevre means a vessel which from the nature of
her work is restricted in her ability to manouevre as required by these Rules and is therefore
unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.
Meaning: This includes a ship which is doing some special work by which she can move only in
one direction say ahead, but cannot alter her course to take evasive action neither can she slow
down or speed up to avoid a collision then in that case the vessel would be restricted in her
ability to manoeuvre.
The following are the vessels as declared under these Rules to be vessels restricted in their
ability to manouevre, however this list is not absolute and final, this is a general guidance for
such vessel, any vessel other than those in the list may also be vessels restricted in their ability
to manouevre.
The term vessels restricted in their ability to manouevre shall include but not limited to:-
i. a vessel engaged in laying, servicing or picking up a navigational 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 the 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.
The term vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre shall include but not limited to:-
Meaning: shall include but not limited to, this means that the Rules define the following vessels
as being restricted in their ability to manoeuvre, but the classification of ships is not limited by
the vessels already described, other vessels may also be included if they are also restricted in
their ability to manoeuvre.
The term vessel constrained by her draught means a power driven vessel, which, because of
her draught in relation to the available depth and width of navigable water, is severely restricted
in her ability to deviate from the course she is following.
Meaning: This is applicable to POWER DRIVEN VESSELS, which because of their draft in
comparison to the depth of water at that place is so great that she cannot alter to avoid a collision
since to do that they would run aground.
However if there were adequate width of the channel through which they are moving then they
would not be classed as constrained by draught.
Thus a VLCC with a draft of 18m would be classed as a vessel constrained by her draught in a
channel where the least depth is 21m (3 m safety for squat etc) and the width of the channel is
just 600 metres, but in the Pacific she would be an ordinary vessel.
If the channel or bay is such that all over the bay the depth is as mentioned but the size of the bay
is 30NM by 40NM then she would not be a vessel constrained by her draft.
The word underway means that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.
Meaning: This term is somewhat vague. The opinion has been held that a vessel, which is
intentionally, anchored with a proper anchor and intends to hold her position, is anchored. But if
the vessel ha dropped her anchor to turn the vessel in a tide or is dredging meaning that the
anchor has been dropped underfoot and the vessel is being dragged or is under her own power
and is steaming astern (the anchor helps in keeping the bow in line) then in these cases the vessel
would not be termed as at anchor.
If the vessel drags her anchor and moves away then too she is not at anchor.
Thus the meaning of at anchor means in relation to the made fast to shore and aground that
is the ship cannot move or drift away.
The words length and breadth of a vessel means her overall length and her greatest breadth.
Meaning: Here LBP does not mean he length.
Vessels shall be deemed to be in sight of one another only when one can be observed visually
from the other.
Meaning: The vessel being observed should be capable of being seen with the observers eyes and
not by any electronic device, this is so because the aspect of the vessel is very important, the
human brain analyses data from input more effectively than a electronic device. A change in
other vessels heading is very readily apparent when observing visually, by electronic means it
has a time lag.
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.
Meaning: Restricted visibility may be caused by any of the above conditions and also by any
other means, for example the smoke from forest fires in the Indonesian forests had drastically
reduced visibility in the Malacca Straits some years back.
Part B Steering and Sailing Rules
Section 1 Conduct of Vessels in any Condition of Visibility
Rule 4
Application
Meaning: The above section applies to all vessels and under any condition of visibility that is
good visibility as well as when under poor visibility whatever the cause may be
Rule 5
Look-out
Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as by all available
means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal
of the situation and of the risk of collision.
Meaning: Look out is very important and should take about 70 80% of the watch
keeping officers time. The rest are to be the full appraisal of what he sees, and the action that is
taken by him. Lookout is also for getting the feedback on the action that he or the other ship took
to avoid the situation.
Look out means to see and understand the situation, by sight and hearing as well by other means
which may be by Radar and GPS (position) and by any other electronic devices.
Appropriate in the prevailing conditions means in condition of poor visibility, the Radar and
ears may be the only means of detecting other vessels, here again the range scale selection
should be appropriate, if the vessel is in the middle of a fishing fleet there is no point keeping a
watch on 12Nm range and only on one Radar. If 2 Radars exist then one should be set on smaller
range and the other on 12Nm for detecting other vessels, if only 1 Radar is available then
periodic switches have to be done between smaller scale and a longer scale.
In any case the echo sounder the log the GPS and the chart and vessels charted position have to
be also monitored. Because for a full appraisal of the situation all factors have to be taken into
consideration, can the own vessel alter to keep out of the way or is it better to slow down.
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 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 into account:-
Meaning: A very difficult statement Safe Speed. Any vessel, which is sailing has some speed
and it can cause destruction to others as well as to itself. If the speed is very low and the current
is strong she may drift on to any other ship, so a low speed is out under these circumstances. If
the speed is great and if the steering fails then she would move away from her course line onto a
danger very fast without maybe even an emergency being realized.
So safe speed means that the ship sails at a speed at which if any emergency occurs she would
come out of the emergency without anybody getting injured.
The basic fact is that under any circumstances the speed should be such that the vessel can take a
effective (avoid) action to avoid danger, this includes maneuvering to keep out of the way or
slowing down or stopping to allow another vessel to pass clearly.
In open sea ME slow down or stopping may not be required and a manouvre in good (well
before closing in) time would be fine, but if the sea passage is narrow or the depth is less then
ME should also be art stand by. Also if the current is strong or the visibility is poor then in open
sea the ME may be required to avoid since the time of observing the vessel may be reduced.
It is likening to a person running on a racetrack, which is brightly lit he runs at his maximum
speed. Place the same person in a forest at night and then ask him to run, obviously he would run
taking into consideration that he may hit a tree or a branch or fall in a ditch. Depending on how
well he is seeing he adjusts his speed.
By all vessels:-
The state of visibility;
The visibility, if the visibility is affected by any condition then adequate precautions should be
taken and the me may be required, the helmsman should also be stand by and if permissible the
stand by steering motor switched on.
The traffic density including concentration of fishing vessels or any other vessels;
If the traffic density is heavy, and a lot of ships are moving around then the ME has to be on
stand by. Since the vessel may have to take emergency measures to avoid danger. The alteration
of courses may not be possible due to other vessels in the vicinity.
The maneuverability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability
in the prevailing conditions;
This relates to the peculiar maneuvering characteristics of different vessels, a large fully laden
tanker may have stopped her engines after being on full ahead, she then takes emergency action
to stop the vessel by going emergency full astern, but the momentum of the vessel is such that
she would come to a full stopped condition only after traveling a further distance of maybe a
mile. A smaller cargo vessel or the same tanker on ballast in such a condition may have stopped
in the water in a distance of maybe less that quarter of a mile.
Again a large tanker fully laden will take a lot of time to initially begin her turn after the wheel is
put hard over, and once the vessel starts her swing she keeps swinging and to stop her swing it
takes a lot of time wherein the ship may have done a near 360 turn and landed up in another
critical situation. A smaller vessel or the same tanker on ballast may not have such problem.
At night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter of her
own lights;
The above refers to the state of visibility, a vessel when she leaves a port is surrounded by a lot
of bright shore lights, and her navigation lights may be cluttered up with these lights. A lookout
on another vessel would not be able to see the vessel departing the port until she comes to a
position where the background is dark.
The second case refers to back scatter of a vessels own lights. Backscatter of ships lights is the
effect of a brightly lit ship (say at anchor or at sea with the bridge front port holes not covered).
The light, which emanates from these sources pick up the microscopic particles of the
atmosphere and they are seen as a filter before an observers vision. In cases where this filter is
bright it may obscure a distant vessels navigation lights and a look out may detect the vessel
when she is quite close.
The state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards;
In rough weather with high winds and waves it is difficult to quickly alter the course of a ship the
wind and/or the waves prevent or haste the alteration as such the helmsman used to giving a
particular helm to alter a course may find that the ship either does not turn or turns very slowly,
the correcting helm also is different than usual.
A current also makes a ship behave in the above manner.
A danger mark or a shallow patch would cause a vessel to later course less than is required as
such the need for a ship to be within manageable speed where she can be brought out of one
danger without her landing up in another difficult situation.
The draught in relation to the available depth of water.
As stated previously the draught in relation to the depth of water a deep drafted vessel under
the circumstances, has to take special precautions in maintaining her speed, her draft is more thus
the sea room available for her to take effective action to avoid a close quarter situation has to be
effected with the ME performance. Speed thus has to be controllable and the ship if required has
to be stopped short of danger.
Additionally, by vessels with operational radar:-
Today this refers to practically all ocean-going vessels. When it is stated that the vessel has a
Radar, it implies that the Radar is fully functional and may be used to keep a Radar watch.
And a good Radar lookout can be kept on it.
The characteristics, efficiency and limitations of the radar equipment;
A functional Radar may not be operating at its peak performance, maybe the magnetron has
become old, or the centre of the PPI is burnt out or any other causes where the Radar has got
peculiarities which are readily apparent to a new observer but may be overlooked by a old ship
hand. The Mast and the funnel cast Radar shadows and for a particular ship the watch keepers
have to take that in consideration. These peculiarities may in emergencies cause other vessels
not to be tracked by the Radar.
Any constraints imposed by the radar range scale in use;
Sometimes a Radar may be fully functional and good but it may have a defect that is it may not
detect vessels at a certain range or may be not very good at low ranges or on higher ranges.
The effect on radar detection of the sea salt, weather and other source of interference;
Clutter, a nuisance especially when it is least wanted. Rain clutter is the raindrops sending their
reflection back to the observer who is more interested in detecting the ships. Rain clutter may
completely obscure an entire region of the horizon on Radar, thus any ships within that particular
region will not be detected. Increasing the Rain clutter control on the Radar will reduce the rain
clutter but will also remove weak targets.
Sea clutter is another hazard, this is more affecting around the proximity of the ship than rain
clutter, but the effect is the same the vessels (especially small or when the aspect is poor) are
obscured.
Other sources include soot from the funnel. Which can seriously impair the performance of the
Radar.
The possibility that small vessels, ice and other floating objects may not be detected by radar at
an adequate range;
Every modern Radar has a selective clutter control, where the logic is that, the microprocessor
within the Radar once it detects a target predicts the next position of the target, if the target fails
to appear it removes the target, of course this sequence is not in one sweep but in about 5
sweeps, thus a small vessel if it appears in consistently then the Radar will not detect it.
For Ice it is different, the ice reflects the EM wave in a direction that is not towards the scanner
and is thus lost and the observer does not see the Ice.
The number, location and movement of vessels detected by radar;
In areas of high traffic density, keeping track of what each ship is doing and also assessing the
ship with the most potential risk factor is an exacting task. However with a Radar tracking unit
or an ARPA the same can be achieved very easily. The only carefulness that has to be exercised
is that the risk factor set data as presented by the Radar, should be evaluated. And an
understanding of the situation has to be done.

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.
Since Radar observation is not affected to that extent as observation by sight by poor visibility,
using the Radar may do an assessment of the visibility and noting down at what range the target
was actually seen by the observer.
Earlier visibility was estimated by guess work (experience some may call it), but with Radar it is
an exact figure, also visibility is not the same all around the ship especially in rain, as such more
exact assessment may be done by using the Radar.
Rule 7
Risk of collision
Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances arid
conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed
to exist.
A famous sentence in the Masters Night Order book was Whenever in doubt, call me. This
holds true with the above Rule. If the watch keeper is in any doubt even the slightest, he should
assume that such risk exists and would have to act according to the Rules.
Of course in judging such risk, he has to take into consideration the conditions at that time state
of sea, traffic density, visibility etc.
All available means to assess the risk, means all that is available to the watch keeper visual
bearings, Radar tracking or observations and plot, sound signals, VHF traffic, and the like.
In doing the above the chart should be studied, since this will give an indication of the course
that the other vessel may be following to either head to or from a port or TSS.
Taking all the above the watch keeper has to judge whether even a slight risk exists and if this
slight chance does exist then he shall note that RISK does exist.
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
observation of detected objects.
Radar is an AID to navigation and its use today is mandatory and essential. The Radar
should be used so long as it is functional to warn the watch keeper of the danger in as great a
time interval as possible. This implies that the Radar has to be used for long range scanning to
detect the ships and do a radar plot to determine whether the ship would pose any hazard or not.
Further even if the ARPA is not working the bearing and distance off if plotted would give a fair
idea of the risk of collision. The bearing may not be very accurate (see Radar) but over a period
of time this in accurate bearing would still indicate whether such risk exists or not. Radar
Plotting of course is very helpful in assessing the above. And this is termed as systematic
observation.
Assumptions shall not be made on the basis of scanty information, especially scanty radar
information.
Scanty Radar information if the target has been observed once in a while then the assessment is
not correct. The plot is required and then the plot has to be checked by following it up by further
observations.
ARPA readings may not be accurate in the first set of figures, the ARPA also keeps predicting
and updating the figures. Small vessels often disappear from Radar, it does not mean that the
ship was never there and that it was a false echo.
Target swap takes place frequently on Radar, this gives rise to scanty and wrong information.
Remember: after judging a vessels track and risk factor it has to be keenly observed to ensure
that the data that the watch keeper has obtained is true.
In determining if risk of collision exists the following considerations shall be among those taken
into account:
Such risk shall be deemed to exist if the compass hearing of an approaching vessel does not
appreciably change;
This fact is the most important. If the bearing changes for a ship at an appreciable range then the
risk factor is less, however it has to be remembered that the change of bearing has to be
appreciably or else the CPA would be insignificant and thus the risk would still exist.
A small change should therefore be viewed with suspicion and a DOUBT should arise in the
mind of the observer.
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.
As mentioned above the bearing change should be very evident, however sometimes this
appreciably large change may not hold true for observations of large vessels which subtend a
significant angle at the observer, if the bow was being observed and the aspect of the ship
changes from end on to a side then too the bearing change would be evident but that does not
mean that the risk does not exist, so for large vessels which subtend n angle at the observer care
should be exercised.
The same holds true for vessels at close range and vessels in tow, where the entire tow and towed
present a very large object.
Rule 8
Action to avoid collision
Any action to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, is made in
ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.
Qualification of the action: The action should be positive meaning that it should result in the
reduction of the risk of collision, not aggravate it.
Should be made in ample time, implying that the assessment should be done in time and
obviously that means that the situation should have been observed for quite some time and from
a great distance distance also correlates to the time interval between the time of observation,
assessment and the time of the action. No daydreaming and then a wake up call to take action.
Be alert.
Good seamanship, here a departure may be made from the rules, if for vessel very far on the
horizon, it is seen that the vessel lies fine to starboard, also it is noted that for own vessel to alter
course to increase the CPA would mean closing in on another danger, then note she has to be at
least 30 mins into the future, the own vessel may alter her course drastically to PORT for some
time to increase the CPA. Although it is not recommended, this action may be necessary under
these circumstances, rather than land up in a situation where you have the vessel on your
starboard and you cannot alter course any further to starboard.
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.
The alteration of course always has to be large enough to be readily apparent to the other vessel.
Small changes are not noticeable to other vessels since, the aspect during day time and the
navigation light aspect at night may not appreciably differ from what it was before the small
alteration of course, the other vessel then would be in doubt as to whether you have taken action
or not panic may set in.
Regarding speed change it is still harder to figure out when a vessel reduces from 14 knots to 13
knots, it is apparent if a vessel reduces from 14 knots to directly 10 knots.
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 arid does not
result in another close-quarter situation.
Rather than speed alteration which being rather difficult to observe as such is difficult to assess
the situation, and the apparent track remains the same. Thus a course alteration is much more
effective in diffusing a dangerous situation and also is readily apparent to the other vessel
provided however that the alteration can be observed very easily by the other vessel.
The action should not be where the situation becomes worse, so it has to be done in time when
the vessels are far away so that, the action taken can be further assessed, and if rectification is
required may be done.
Action taken to avoid 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 is
finally past and clear.
As explained above, all actions have to be assessed after taking them. All actions should diffuse
the dangerous situation and the passing of the vessels should be with as wide a margin as
possible under the conditions.
If necessary to avoid collision or 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.
The above would happen in waters where ships are going in and out of the harbour limits. Since
the ship may not have set a course also that the speed may not have to sufficient, a vessel may
head in some different way, especially when transferring pilot etc, under these circumstances it is
better to either stop and watch the situation as it develops or even if required to stop the vessel in
her tracks no movement, and then to assess the situation and then move cautiously.
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.
A vessel required not to impede the passage or safe passage for 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.
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.
All of the above relate to vessels which have been required to keep out of the way of other
vessels and not to hinder the passage of another vessel. These vessels should therefore take early
action to keep clear, but if they fail then too they are obliged to follow the Rules to avoid a close
quarter situation.
For the stand on vessel, it still has to follow the Rules irrespective of whether the other vessel
takes action or not. Risk of collision at any costs has to be avoided.
Rule 9
Narrow Channels
A vessel proceeding along the course of a narrow channel or fairway shall keep as near to the
outer limit of the channel or fairway which lies on her starboard side as is safe and practicable.
No ambiguity in this part of the Rule, it is a general advice. As safe and practicable leaves it to
the watch keeping officer to take the ultimate decision to deviate from this Rule. If due to the
draft or width of the ship as well as the contour of the bottom of the channel it is not safe or is
not practicable to comply with this Rule then the watch keeper has his common sense to guide
him, keeping always safety in mind.
A vessel of less than twenty meters 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.
This again is a guideline for small vessels as well as for sailing crafts to keep away from ships
that can safely navigate only within the narrow channel or fairway, since the small vessels and
the sailing craft can always use the shallower part of the channel they should not impede the
passage of a large ship.
A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any other vessel navigating within a
narrow channel or fairway.
Also a guideline, again please note it is not a fishing vessel but a fishing vessel engaged in the
actual task of fishing, so no fishing in the narrow channel or fairway.
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 signals prescribed in rule 34 (d) if in doubt as to the intention of the crossing
vessel.
Crossing vessels are warned not to cross the channel or fairway if this crossing should come in
the way of a vessel proceeding along the channel who cannot deviate due to the depth or width
restriction of the channel.
Sound signals have been mentioned which may be used if in any doubt about the intention of
either vessel.
It does say that a vessel will not cross a channel or fairway she can do so as long as she does
not impede the passage of a ship following the channel.
In a narrow channel or fairway when overtaking can take place only if the vessel to be overtaken
has to take action to permit safe passage, the vessel intending to overtake shall indicate signal
prescribed in rule 34 c (i). The vessel to be overtaken shall, if in agreement, sound the
appropriate signal prescribed in rule 34 c (ii) and take steps to permit safe passing. If in doubt
she may sound the signals prescribed in rule 34 d.
In a narrow channel or fairway overtaking may prove to be difficult, but it may be necessary for
some reason, ship behind gets a priority berthing etc. In this case if the vessel behind wants to
overtake then she has to sound the signal Two prolonged blasts followed by oneshort blast to
mean I intend to overtake you on your starboard side;
Two prolonged blasts followed by two short blasts to mean I intend to overtake you on
your port side.
This is a request signal and has to be answered by the ship ahead either in the affirmative by
sounding -, and the ship ahead should go to one side of the channel and allow sea room for the
other ship to overtake. Or if refusing to accept the offer by sounding One prolonged, one
short, one prolonged and one short blast, in that order.
Only once the confirmation has been received can the ship behind take action. If the answer was
positive and overtaking has been permitted then she should first watch the other ship and when
the passage has been widened for her she should overtake.
If the ship ahead is in any doubt about the sound signal that she heard or at a later stage while
overtaking is in progress and she feels that a close quarter situation may develop then she may
sound the signal:-
at least five short and rapid blasts on the whistle.
This rule does not relieve the overtaking vessel of her obligation under rule 30.
Okay so the ship ahead has agreed to be overtaken, but the responsibility and obligation as per
Rule 30 still remains on the ship behind, she cannot find fault with the ship ahead, if some
mishap occurs. This is the reason that she has to make sure that after answering in the positive
the ship ahead has made adequate sea room available for her to overtake. Otherwise even if the
sound signal is positive she should not overtake, if in doubt she may sound the signal again.
The vessel nearing a bend or an area of a 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.
Almost like a car sounds a car horn when nearing a crossing, it alerts traffic on the blind side of
the bend that a ship is about to cross. This is especially relevant in channels and rivers and
fairways where up and down traffic are numerous.
Any vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid anchoring in a narrow channel.
A general advice, circumstances of the case admit means as far as possible she should not
anchor, but if due to some extraordinary circumstances she has to anchor then she should have to
warn all vessels and take special care.
Rule 10
Traffic separation schemes
This Rule applies to traffic separation schemes adopted by the Organization and does not relieve
any vessel of her obligation under any other Rule.
Meaning: The objective of this rule of the COLREGS is that although IMO may enforce traffic
separation schemes, but the instructions in this rule shall not go against the rules as stated
elsewhere in the COLREGS. So a vessel even when in a TS has to obey the other rules as well as
this rule on TS.
A vessel using a traffic separation scheme shall:
proceed in the appropriate traffic lane in the general direction of traffic flow for that lane;
Meaning: The ship shall go in the direction of the lane not opposite and not at too great a angle
to the lane as marked on the chart. The course line as drawn should be parallel or nearly parallel
to the direction of the lane. If the marked lane is showing a direction of 270 then the course line
should be almost close to 270 and the ship should always steer the course unless of course set
and drift make her steer other course, she should at least have CMG in the general direction as
stated.
so far as practicable keep clear of a traffic separation line or separation zone;
Meaning: Ships should as far as possible lay their course line away from the edges of the traffic
lane on either side, and follow the same. Preferable drawn through the centre of the lane.
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.
Meaning: When entering or leaving a TS, make your course line join the TS at the beginning or
at the end of the TS. If however the vessel has to join or leave from the side, say for engine to be
stopped or other emergencies, then the exit or entry course line should have as small an angle to
the general arrow direction as possible.
It is almost similar to driving on the road, a car indicates her side lights and slowly edges from
the centre of the road to the edge to take the side road. No car suddenly moves from the centre of
the road to the side road.
A vessel shall, so far as practicable, avoid crossing traffic lanes but if obliged to do so shall
cross on a heading as nearly as practicable at right angles to the general direction of traffic flow.
Meaning: Case 1: A vessel is not following a TS, she decides to cross the TS and go over to the
other side, in this case she has to bisect the TS at 90 or nearly so, since that is the shortest
distance to cut and also the other vessels are not in confusion as to what this vessel is doing.
Case 2: A vessel has to exit the TS under exceptional circumstances, then first she moves at a
small angle and goes to the edge of the TS and then crosses the opposite TS lane at 90 or nearly
so.
A vessel shall not use all inshore traffic zone when she can safely use the appropriate traffic lane
within the adjacent traffic separation scheme. However, vessels of less than 20 m in length,
sailing vessels and vessels engaged in fishing may use tile inshore traffic zone.
Meaning: IMO has demarcated Inshore TZ, this is not supposed to be used by any vessel, so no
course lane or navigation may be done within the zone, however, vessels less than 20m in length,
sailing vessels and fishing vessels (only if they are fishing) may use them.
Since this is equivalent to a road divider and as we know that cars are do not drive on road
dividers.
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.
Meaning: Ships may use the TSZ in exceptional circumstances. Like when using a facility by the
side of these zones or in case of emergencies.
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:
in cases of emergency to avoid immediate danger,-
Meaning: as explained above
to engage in fishing within a separation zone.
Meaning: as explained above
A vessel navigating in areas near the terminations of traffic separation schemes shall do so with
particular caution.
Meaning: When a ship is near a terminal area like the joining or leaving point to a TSC, the ships
should be alert, look outs should be posted, Radars should be working at least 2, the engines to
be on standby and the person steering should be alert. All emergency measures for change over
should be tried out. The engine room should be informed. This because this is when the ships
sailing at their normal safe speed will be quite close to each other and anything may happen.
A vessel shall so far as practicable avoid anchoring in a traffic separation scheme or in areas near
its terminations.
Meaning: No anchoring is permitted within the TSC or around its terminations, except in
emergencies when a ship may anchor please make sure about the extreme emergency.
A vessel not using a traffic separation scheme shall avoid it by as wide a margin as is practicable.
Meaning: If a vessel is not going to use the TSC, then they should be as far away as possible
from the TSC, this so that they do not cause confusion for the ships which are heading to or
leaving the TSC.
A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any vessel following a traffic lane.
Meaning: Fishing vessels while fishing in a TS Zone should not come into the TSC and thus
obstruct the safe passage of another ship sailing along the TSC, because this would defeat the
purpose of the TSC if the ships have to weave through the fishing vessels and their nets.
A vessel of less than 20metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the safe passage of a
power driven vessel following a traffic lane.
Meaning: These small vessels should not come and disturb the passage of a ship following
a TSC, they can sail along the TS Zone to which they are permitted.
A vessel restricted in her ability to manouevre when engaged in an operation for the maintenance
of navigation in a traffic separation scheme is exempted from complying with this rule in the
extent necessary to carry out the operation.
Meaning: Let us say that a ship which is repairing a buoy or renewing it within a TSC. Then
obviously the vessel is restricted in her ability to manouevre, in this case the work has to be done
for the safety of the ships in the TSC, so this vessel would not have to follow the rules for vessels
in the TSC. For other ships the signals as hoisted by the working vessel should be carefully noted
and the ship should pass clear of the restricted vessel, the restricted vessel may not comply with
the rules of TSC.
A vessel restricted in her ability to manouevre when engaged in an operation for the laying,
servicing or picking up of a submarine cable, within a traffic separation scheme, is exempted
from complying with this rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.
Meaning: Like the above explanation, these vessels are also exempt. Thus the alertness on the
part of other vessels is to be very sharp. However once the work is finished the restricted ship no
longer enjoys the exemption from complying with this part of the rule.
Rule 11
Application
Rules in this section apply to vessels in sight of one another.
Rule 12
Sailing vessels
When two sailing vessels are approaching one another, so as to involve risk of collision, one of
them shall keep out of the way of the way as follows:
when each has the wind on a different side, the vessel which has the wind on the port side shall
keep out of the way of the other;
when both have the wind on the same side, the vessel which is to windward shall keep Out of the
way of the vessel which is to leeward; if a vessel with the wind on the port side sees a vessel to
windward and cannot determine with certainty whether the other vessel has the wind on the port
or on the starboard side, she shall keep out of the way of the other.
For the purpose of this Rule the windward side shall be deemed to be the side opposite to that on
which the mainsail is carried or, in the case of a square rigged vessel, the side opposite to that on
which the largest fore-and-aft sail is carried.
Rule13
Overtaking
Notwithstanding anything contained in the Rules of part B, sections I and II, any vessel
overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken.
Meaning: It does not make a difference whether any ship ahead of own vessel has permitted by
signalling that overtaking may take place.
As far as the Rules are concerned especially Rule 13, the overtaking vessel is duty bound to keep
clear.
A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction
more than 22.5 abaft the beam, that is, in such a position with reference to the vessel she is
overtaking, that at night she would be able to see only the stern light of that vessel but neither of
her sidelights.
Meaning: This part determines whether or not a vessel would be deemed to be overtaking or not.
In general overtaking is a clear cut understanding, however in certain circumstances, it becomes
difficult to judge whether a ship is overtaking or not. So this Part clarifies what is overtaking.
When a vessel is in any doubt as to whether she is overtaking another, she shall assume that this
is the case and act accordingly.
Meaning:Again the same instruction when in any doubt whether a vessel is overtaking or not, it
is accepted that the vessel is overtaking.
Any subsequent alteration of the hearing between the two vessels shall not make the overtaking
vessel a crossing vessel within the meaning of these Rules or relieve her of the duty of keeping
clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear.
Meaning: A vessel which has overtaken another, but is not very clear of the overtaken vessel,
cannot alter her course and cross the bows of the other vessel claiming to be a crossing vessel.
If a vessel has overtaken then the other vessel would have to be left absolutely clear and then
only the overtaking vessels responsibility ends.
Rule 14
Head-on situation
When two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal courses so as to
involve risk of collision each shall alter her course to starboard so that each shall pass on the port
side of the other.
Meaning: It is a clear instruction when the vessels are head on perfectly, the thing to remember is
that when the vessels are nearly on reciprocal courses, then too the vessels are asked to alter
course to starboard.
Nearly reciprocal course would deem that the vessels would be passing very close to each other,
and the situation can become a close quarter situation when the ships are quite close.
Such a situation shall be deemed to exist when a vessel sees the other ahead or nearly ahead and
by night she could see the masthead lights of the other in a line or nearly in a line and/or both
sidelights and by day she observes the corresponding aspect of the other vessel.
Meaning: The Rule is very clear about the sightings and has explained what is to be termed as
Head On, a number of cases have come about when this basic Rule is forgotten and the watch
keeper relies on the ARPA to give him the CPA.
The Radar and the ARPA are assistances for the watch keeper and do not replace the Rule
instructions.
When a vessel is in any doubt as to whether such a situation exists she shall assume that it does
exist and act accordingly.
Meaning: Again the same word Doubt. So even if the CPA as per the ARPA is marginal but a
positive figure, the determination of Head On would still be by this Rule of sighting.
Rule 15
Crossing situation
When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which
has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall if the circumstances
of the case admit avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.
Meaning: This situation would frequently arise and it is always better to avoid a close quarter
situation and go right around the stern of the other vessel rather than cross ahead of the other
vessel.
Of course going around the stern may not be practical at all times but if the situation permits then
it should be followed if the crossing would result in a small CPA.

Rule 16
Action by give-way vessel
Every vessel which is directed to keep out of the way of another vessel shall, so far as possible,
take early and substantial action to keep well clear.
Meaning: Give way vessels should take action well in time, estimate the speed of approach
between the two vessels, estimate the approximate time interval and then take action, do not take
a late action, since this would make the stand on vessel apprehensive and she may then take an
action which would be detrimental to both vessels.
Rule 17
Action by stand-on vessel
Where one of two vessels is to keep out of the way the other shall keep her course and speed.
Meaning: As long as the give way vessel takes a action well in time there is no problem and the
stand on vessel follows the above Rule, and the stand on vessel is required not to take action, but
it does not mean that she would not be alert and monitor the situation.
The latter vessel may however take action to avoid collision by her manouevre alone, as soon as
it becomes apparent to her that the vessel required to keep out of the way is net taking
appropriate action in compliance with these Rules.
Meaning: The watch keeper on the stand on vessel has to be alert and should have been
monitoring the situation as it developed. His plan of action for evasive action should be ready at
all instances, since he would have to take evasive action if the give way vessel fails to take action
or if the action is not sufficient to clear the impending danger.
When, from any cause, the vessel required to keep her course and speed finds herself so close
that collision cannot be avoided by the action of the give-way vessel alone, she shall take such
action as will best aid to avoid collision.
Meaning: The action that the stand on vessel finally takes to avoid the situation depends
on on what is the nature of the action of the give way vessel, if the action is insufficient to clear
the close quarter situation then the stand on vessel has to take action which will get the two ships
safely away from each other.
THE BASIC FACT OF THESE RULES ARE THAT ALTHOUGH THE STAND ON VESSEL
NEED NOT TAKE ACTION INITIALLY, SHE MUST, REPEAT MUST CLOSELY
MONITOR THE OTHER SHIP AND PLAN OUT ACTIONS AT EVERY STEP.
A power-driven vessel which takes action in a crossing situation in accordance with
subparagraph (a) (ii) of this Rule to avoid collision with another power-driven vessel shall, if the
circumstances of the case admit, not alter course to port for a vessel on her own port side.
Meaning: The action that the stand on vessel takes should not develop into a catastrophe, rather it
should enhance the clearing action.
However the advice is not to alter course to Port for a give way vessel which is on her port side.
But it is a recommendation and if the situation demands please refer to Rule 2 and take a well
planned decision which may deviate from the above Rule.
This Rule does not relieve the give-way vessel of her obligation to keep out of the way.
Meaning: Just because the stand on vessel has been forced to take action does not mean that the
give way vessel has passed the buck to the stand on vessel. She is still obliged as per the Rules to
keep out of the way.
Rule 18
Responsibilities between vessels
Except where Rules 9, 1 0 and 1 3 otherwise require:
A power-driven vessel underway shall keep out of the way of:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to manouevre
a vessel engaged in fishing,-
a sailing vessel.
Understanding, and complying with the Rules, the above are to be committed to memory and
applied when meeting any of the named type of vessels.
Except if the situation is within a TSS or a narrow channel or if a overtaking situation arises.
Then the Rules named above would take precedence if they so require.
A sailing vessel underway shall keep out of the way of:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to manouevre;
a vessel engaged in fishing.
A vessel engaged in fishing when underway shall, so far as possible, keep out of the way of:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre.
Any vessel other than a vessel not under command or a vessel restricted in her ability to
manoeuvre shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid impeding the safe passage of a
vessel constrained by her draught, exhibiting the signals in Rule 28.
Understanding, and complying with the Rules, the above are to be committed to memory and
applied when meeting this type of vessels.
Except if the situation is within a TSS or a narrow channel or if a overtaking situation arises.
Then the Rules named above would take precedence if they so require.
For example in a TSS or a Narrow channel if a vessel cannot permit an overtaking by a Deep
drafted vessel then although she is a way impeding the passage but as per that particular Rule she
is within complying with the Rules.
A vessel constrained by her draught shall navigate with particular caution having full regard to
her special condition.
Meaning: The deep drafted vessel should not take undue advantage of her condition and impose
on other vessels to give way to her. She should navigate with full alertness and with regard to her
draft. She should be within safe speed and be able to be stopped or slowed down to avoid risky
situations.
A seaplane on the water shall, in general, keep well clear of all vessels and avoid impeding their
navigation. In circumstances, however, where risk of collision exists, she shall comply with the
Rules of this part.
Meaning: Since a sea plane being not very maneuverable, may cause undue uncertainty for other
vessels she has to keep clear, if however a risk exists then she has to behave as a vessel and take
action as per the Rules.
Rule 19
Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility
This Rule applies to vessels not in sight of one another when navigating in or near an area of
restricted visibility.
Meaning that this Rule applies to such vessels that may be close to each other but cannot visually
see each other, electronic devices and sound signals may be the only possible means of detection
and thus the action that would be taken would not be visible by the other vessel.
The areas are not only in areas of poor visibility but also areas near to that. Meaning that ships
should be careful when approaching a fog bank, or a area of poor visibility caused maybe by any
weather or other condition.
Every vessel shall proceed at a safe speed adapted to the prevailing circumstances and conditions
of restricted visibility. A power-driven vessel shall have her engines ready for immediate
manoeuvre.
Every vessel shall have due regard to the prevailing circumstances and conditions of restricted
visibility when complying with the Rule of Section I of this Part.
(i) an alteration of course to port for a vessel forward of the beam, other than for a vessel
being overtaken;
Meaning: In restricted visibility when the vessels cannot see each other as required by the Rules,
the above are to be complied with.
Of course alteration of course to Port has been advised against, and it should be followed as far
as practicable, if the situation deems that an alteration of course other than to Port is required
then that may be done.- Rule 2, use your head.
For overtaking situation after the Risk factor has been assessed the alteration may be done either
way.

(ii) an alteration of course towards a vessel abeam or abaft the beam.


Here too since the vessels are not in sight of one another and the observations are being carried
out by electronic means , the proper assessment of the aspect of the vessel is not obtained, as
such the above guidelines
A vessel which detects by radar alone the presence of another vessel shall determine if a close-
quarters situation is developing and/or risk of collision exists. If so, she shall take avoiding
action in ample time, provided that when such action consists of an alteration of course, so far a
possible the following shall be avoided:
(i) an alteration of course to port for a vessel forward of the beam, other than for a vessel
being overtaken;
(ii) an alteration of course towards a vessel abeam or abaft the beam.
Except where it has been determined that a risk of collision does not exist, every vessel which
hears apparently forward of her beam the fog signal of another vessel, or which cannot avoid a
close-quarters situation with another vessel forward of her beam, shall reduce her speed to the
minimum at which she can be kept on her course. She shall if necessary take all her way off and
in any event navigate with extreme caution until danger of collision is over.
Rule 20
Application
Rules in this part shall be complied with in all weathers.
The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times
no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights
specified in these Rules or do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, interfere with the
keeping of a proper look-out.
The lights prescribed by these Rules shall, if carried, also be exhibited from sunrise to sunset and
in restricted visibility and may be exhibited in all other circumstances when it is deemed
necessary.
Meaning: Under all circumstances where the watch keeper may determine that the showing of
the Navigation lights would enhance the visibility of the ship or would enhance own ships
aspect better to an observing vessel.
The Rules concerning shapes shall be complied with by day.
The lights and shapes specified in these Rules shall comply with the provisions of annex I to
these Regulations.
Rule 21
Definitions
Masthead light means a white light placed over the fore-and-aft centerline of the vessel showing
an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 and so fixed as to show the light from right
ahead to 22.5 abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.

Sidelights means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing
an unbroken light over an arc of the horizontal of 112.5 and so fixed as to show the light from
right ahead to 22.5 abaft the beam on its respective side.

In a vessel of less than 20 m in length the sidelights may be combined in one lantern carried on
the fore-and-aft centreline of the vessel.

Sternlight means a white light placed as nearly as practicable at the stern ii showing an unbroken
light over an arc of the horizon of 135 and so fixed as to show the light 67.5 from right aft on
each side of the vessel.
Towing light means a yellow light having the same characteristics as the sternlight defined in
paragraph (c) of this Rule.

All-round light means a light showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 360.

Flashing light means a light flashing at regular intervals at a frequency of 120 flashes or more
per minute.
Rule 22
Visibility of lights
The lights prescribed in these Rules shall have an intensity as specified in Section 8 of Annex I
to these Regulations so as to be visible at the following minimum ranges:
In vessels of 50 metres or more in length:
a masthead light, 6 miles; a sidelight, 3 miles;
a sternlight, 3 miles;
a towing light, 3 miles;
a white, red, green or yellow all-round light, 3 miles.
In vessels of 12 metres or more in length but less than 50 metres in length:
a masthead light, 5 miles; except that where the length of the vessel is less than 20 metres, 3
miles;
a sidelight, 2 miles;
a sternlight, 2 miles;
a towing light, 2 miles;
a white, red, green or yellow all-round light, 2 miles.

MORE THAN 20 METRES LESS THAN 20 METRES


In vessels of less than 12 metres in length:
a masthead light, 2 miles;
a sidelight, 1 mile;
a sternlight, 2 miles;
a towing light, 2 miles;
a white, red, green or yellow all-round light, 2 miles.

In inconspicuous, partly submerged vessels or objects being towed:


a white all-round light, 3 miles.
Rule 23
Power-driven vessels underway
A power-driven vessel underway shall exhibit:
a masthead light forward;
a second masthead light abaft of and higher than the forward one; except that a vessel of less
than 50 metres in length shall not be obliged to exhibit such light but may do so;
sidelights;
a sternlight.

An air cushion vessel when operating in the non-displacement mode shall, in addition to the
lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit an all-round flashing yellow light.
A power-driven vessel of less than 12 m in length may in lieu of the
lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light and sidelights,

a power-driven vessel of less than 7 m in length whose maximum speed does not exceed 7 knots
may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light
and shall, if practicable, also exhibit sidelights;

the masthead light or all-round white light on a power-driven vessel of less than 12 m in length
may be displaced from the fore and aft centreline of the vessel if centreline fitting
is not practicable, provided that the sidelights are combined in one lantern which shall be
carried on the fore-and-aft centreline of tile vessel or located as nearly as practicable in the same
fore-and-aft line as the masthead light or the all-round white light.

Rule 24
Towing and pushing
A power-driven vessel when towing shall exhibit:
instead of the light prescribed in Rule 23(a)(i) or (a)(ii), two masthead lights in a vertical line.
When the length of the tow, measuring from the stern of the towing vessel to the after end of
the tow, exceeds 200 m, three such lights in a vertical line;
sidelights,
a sternlight;
a towing light in a vertical line above the sternlight light
when the length of the tow exceeds 200 m, a diamond shape where it can best be seen.
TOWING VESSEL LENGTH OF TOW LESS THAN 200M
TOWING VESSEL LENGTH OF TOW MORE THAN 200M

When a pushing vessel and a vessel being pushed ahead are rigidly connected in a composite
unit they shall be regarded as a power driven vessel and exhibit the lights prescribed in Rule 23.
A power-driven vessel when pushing ahead or towing alongside, except in the case of a
composite unit, shall exhibit:
instead of the light prescribed in Rule 23(a)(i) or (a)(ii), two masthead lights in a vertical line,
sidelights;
a Sternlight
A power-driven ii vessel to which paragraph (a) or (c) of this Rule applies shall also comply with
Rule 23(a)(ii).
A vessel or object being towed, other than those mentioned in paragraph (g) of this Rule, shall
exhibit:
sidelights;
a sternlight;
when the length of the tow exceeds 200 metres, a diamond shape where it can best be seen.
More than 200m Day signal

Provided that any number of vessels being towed alongside or pushed in a group shall be lighted
as one vessel:
a vessel being pushed ahead, not being part of a composite unit, shall exhibit at the forward end,
sidelights;
a vessel being towed alongside shall exhibit a sternlight and at the forward end, sidelights.
An inconspicuous, partly submerged vessel or object, or combination of such vessels or objects
being towed, shall exhibit:
if it is less than 25 metres in breadth, one all-round white light at or near the forward end
and one at or near the after end except that dracones need not exhibit a light at or near the
forward end;
if it is 25 metres or more in breadth, two additional all-round white lights at or near the
extremities of its breadth;
if it exceeds 100 metres in length, additional all-round white lights between the lights prescribed
in sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) so that the distance between the lights shall not exceed 100 metres;
a diamond shape at or near the aftermost extremity of the last vessel or object being towed and if
the length of the tow exceeds 200 metres an additional diamond shape where it can best be seen
and located as far forward as is practicable.
Where from any sufficient cause it is impracticable for a vessel or object being towed to exhibit
the lights or shapes prescribed in paragraph (e) or (g) of this Rule, all possible measures shall be
taken to light the vessel or object towed or at least to indicate the presence of such vessel or
object.
Where from any sufficient cause it is impracticable for a vessel not normally engaged in towing
operations to display the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) or (c) of this Rule, such vessel shall
not be required to exhibit those lights when engaged in towing another vessel in distress or
otherwise in need of assistance. All possible measures shall be taken to indicate the nature of the
relationship between the towing vessel and the vessel being towed as authorized by Rule 36, in
particular by illuminating the towline.
Rule 25
Sailing vessels underway and vessels under oars
A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:
sidelights;
a sternlight.
In a sailing vessel of less than 20 m in length the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule
may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule,
exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they can best be seen, two all-round lights in a
vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in
conjunction with the combined lantern permitted by paragraph (b) of this Rule.
A sailing vessel of less than 7 m in length shall, if practicable, exhibit the lights prescribed in
paragraph (a) or (b) of this Rule, but if she does not, she shall have ready at hand an electric
torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to
prevent collision.
A vessel under oars may exhibit the lights prescribed in this Rule for sailing vessels, but if she
does not, she shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light
which shall be exhibited in Sufficient time to prevent collision.
A vessel proceeding under sail when also being propelled by machinery shall exhibit forward
where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards.
Rule 26
Fishing vessels
A vessel engaged in fishing, whether underway or at anchor, shall exhibit only the lights and
shapes prescribed in this Rule.
A vessel when engaged in trawling, by which is meant the dragging through the water of a
dredge net or other apparatus used as a fishing appliance, shall exhibit:
two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being green and the lower white, or a shape
consisting of two cones with their apexes together in a vertical line one above the other; a
vessel of less than 20 metres in length may instead of this shape exhibit a basket.
a masthead light abaft of and higher than the all-round green light, a vessel of less than 50 m in
length shall not be obliged to exhibit Such a light but may do so;
when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph,
sidelights and a sternlight.
Trawling vessels Less than 50m Trawling + Making Way

Trawling vessels More than 50m Trawling + Making Way


Trawling vessels Less than 50m Trawling + Under Way

Trawling vessels More than 50m Trawling + Under Way

A vessel engaged in fishing, other than trawling shall exhibit:


two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower white, or a shape
consisting of two cones with apexes together in a vertical line one above the other; a vessel of
less than 20 metres in length may instead of this shape exhibit a basket;
when there is outlaying gear extending more than 150 metres horizontally from the vessel, an all-
round white light or a cone apex upwards in the direction of the gear;
when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph,
sidelights and a sternlight.
More than 20m, with outlying gear astern of the boat

Fishing vessels- Fishing and Making Way


Fishing vessels- Not Fishing and Making Way

Fishing vessels- Fishing and Under Way

A vessel engaged in fishing in close proximity to other vessels engaged in fishing may exhibit
the additional signals described in Annex II to these Regulations.
A vessel when not engaged in fishing shall not exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed in this
Rule, but only those prescribed for a vessel of her length.
Rule 27
Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
A vessel not under command shall exhibit:
two all-round red lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen;
two balls or similar shapes in a vertical line where they can best be seen;
when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph,
sidelights and a sternlight.
Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
NUC Day Signal

Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre


Making Way through the water
Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
NOT Making Way through the water

A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre, except a vessel engaged in mine clearance
operations, shall exhibit:
Three all-round lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of
these lights shall be red and the middle light shall be white;
three shapes in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of these
shapes shall be balls and the middle one a diamond;
when making way through the water, a masthead light or lights, sidelights and a sternlight, in
addition to the lights prescribed in sub-paragraph (i);
when at anchor, in addition to the lights or shapes prescribed in sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii), the
light, lights or shape prescribed in Rule 30.
Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
Making Way through the water- Day Signal

Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre


Making Way through the water- Night Signal
Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
Making Way through the Water STERN

Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre


Underway - STOPPED in the Water

Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre


at Anchor
A power-driven vessel engaged in a towing operation such a severely restricts the towing vessel
and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course shall, in addition to the lights or shapes
prescribed in Rule 24 (a), exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed in sub-paragraphs (b) (i) and (ii)
of this Rule.
A vessel engaged in dredging or underwater operations, when restricted in lieu ability to
manoeuvre, shall exhibit the lights and shapes prescribed in subparagraphs (b)(i), (ii) and (iii) of
this Rule and shall in addition, when an obstruction exists, exhibit:
two all-round red lights or two bails in a vertical line to indicate the side on which the
obstruction exists;
two all-round green lights or two diamonds in a vertical line to indicate the side on which
another vessel may pass;
when at anchor, the lights or shapes prescribed in this paragraph instead of the lights or shape
prescribed in Rule 30.
Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
Green Balls: Clear Side Red Balls: Obstructed Side

Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre


Green Balls: Clear Side Red Balls: Obstructed Side
Whenever the size of a vessel engaged in diving operations makes it impracticable to exhibit all
lights and shapes prescribed in paragraph (d) of this Rule, the following shall be exhibited:
three all-round lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of
these lights shall be red and the middle light shall be white,
a rigid replica of the International Code flag A not less than 1 m in height lit. Measures shall
be taken to ensure its all-round visibility.
A vessel engaged in mine clearance operations shall in addition to the lights prescribed for a
power-driven vessel in Rule 23 or to the lights or shape prescribed for a vessel at anchor in Rule
30 as appropriate, exhibit three all-round green lights or three balls. One of these lights or
shapes shall be exhibited near the foremast head and one at each end of the fore yard. These
lights or shapes indicate that it is dangerous for another vessel to approach within 1000 m of the
mine clearance vessel.
Vessels of less than 12 m in length, except those engaged in diving operations, shall not be
required to exhibit the lights and shapes described in this Rule.
The signals prescribed in this Rule are not signals of vessels in distress and requiring
assistance. Such signals are contained in annex IV to these Regulations.
Rule 28
Vessels constrained by their draught
A vessel constrained by her draught lit may, in addition to the lights prescribed for power-driven
ii vessels in Rule 23, exhibit where they can best be seen three all-round red lights in a vertical
line, or a cylinder.
Rule 29
Pilot vessels
A vessel engaged on pilotage duty shall exhibit:
at or near the masthead, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being white and the
lower red;
when underway, in addition, sidelights and a sternlight;
when at anchor, in addition to the lights prescribed in sub-paragraph (i), the light, lights or shape
prescribed in Rule 30 for vessels at anchor.
A pilot vessel when not engaged on pilotage duty shall exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed for
a similar vessel of her length.
Rule 30
Anchored vessels and vessels aground
A vessel at anchor shall exhibit where it can best be seen:
in the fore part, an all-round white light or one ball;
at or near the stern and at a lower level than the light prescribed in sub-paragraph (i), an all-
round white light.
A vessel of less than 50 metres in length may exhibit an all-round white light where it can best
be seen instead of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule.
A vessel at anchor may, and a vessel of 100 metres and more in length shall, also use the
available working or equivalent lights to illuminate her decks.
A vessel aground shall exhibit the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) or (b) of this Rule and in
addition, where they can best be seen:
two all-round red lights in a vertical line;
three balls in a vertical line.
A vessel of less than 7 metres in length, when at anchor, not in or near a narrow channel, fairway
or anchorage, or where other vessels normally navigate, shall not be required to exhibit the lights
or shape prescribed in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Rule.
A vessel of less than 12 metres in length, when aground, shall not be required to exhibit the
lights or shapes prescribed in sub-paragraphs (d) (i) and (ii) of this Rule.
Rule 31
Seaplanes
Where it is impracticable for a seaplane to exhibit lights and shapes of the characteristics or in
the positions prescribed in the Rules of this Part she shall exhibit lights and shapes as closely
similar in characteristics and position as is possible.
PART D - SOUND AND LIGHT SIGNALS
Rule 32
Definitions
The word whistle means any sound signaling appliance capable of producing the prescribed
blasts and which complies with the specifications in annex III to these Regulations.
The term short blast means a blast of about one seconds duration.
The term prolonged blast means a blast of four to six seconds duration.
Rule 33
Equipment for sound signals
A vessel of 12 m or more in length shall be provided with a whistle and a bell and a vessel of
100 m or more in length shall, in addition, be provided with a gong, the tone and sound of which
cannot be confused with that of the bell.
The whistle, bell and gong shall comply with the specifications in annex III to these
Regulations.
The bell of gong or both may be replaced by other equipment having the same respective sound
characteristics, provided that manual sounding of the prescribed signals shall always be possible.
A vessel of less than 12 m in length shall not be obliged to carry the sound signaling appliances
prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule but if she does not, she shall be provided with some
other i-means of making an efficient sound signal.
Rule 34
Manoeuvring and warning signals
When vessels are in sight of one another, a power-driven vessel underway, when manoeuvring as
authorized or required by these Rules, shall indicate that manoeuvre by the following signals on
her whistle:
one short blast to mean I am altering my course to starboard;
two short blasts to mean I am altering my course to port;
three short blasts to mean I am operating astern propulsion.
Any vessel may supplement the whistle signals prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule by light
signals, repeated as appropriate, whilst the manoeuvre is being carried out:
these light signals shall have the following significance:
one flash to mean I am altering my course to starboard;
two flashes to mean I am altering my course to port;
three flashes to mean I am operating astern propulsion;
the duration of each flash shall be about one second, the interval between flashes shall be about
one second, and the interval between successive signals shall be not less than ten seconds;
the light used for this signal shall, if fitted, be an all-round white light, visible at a minimum
range of 5 miles, and shall comply with the provisions of Annex I to these Regulations.
When in sight of one another in a narrow channel or fairway:
a vessel intending to overtake another shall in compliance with Rule 9 (e) (i) indicate her
intention by the following signals on her whistle:
two prolonged blasts followed by one short blast to mean I intend to overtake you on your
starboard side;
two prolonged blasts followed by two short blasts to mean I intend to overtake you on your port
side.
the vessel about to be overtaken when acting in accordance with Rule 9 (e) (i) shall indicate her
agreement by the following signal on her whistle:
one prolonged, one short, one prolonged and one short blast, in that order.
When vessels in sight of one another are approaching each other and from any cause either
vessel fails to understand the intentions or actions of the other, or is in doubt whether sufficient
action is being taken by the other to avoid collision, the vessel in doubt shall immediately
indicate such doubt by giving at least five short and rapid blasts on the whistle. Such signal may
be supplemented by a light signal of at least five short and rapid flashes.
A vessel nearing a bend or an area of a channel or fairway where other vessels may be obscured
by an intervening obstruction shall sound one prolonged blast. Such signal shall be answered
with a prolonged blast by any approaching vessel that may be within hearing around the bend or
behind the intervening obstruction.

If whistles are fitted on a vessel at a distance apart of more than 100 metres, one whistle only
shall be used for giving manoeuvring and warning signals.
Rule 35
Sound signals in restricted visibility
In or near an area of restricted visibility, whether by day or night, the signals prescribed in
this Rule shall be used as follows:
A power-driven vessel making way through the water shall sound at intervals of not more
than 2 minutes one prolonged blast.
A power-driven vessel underway but stopped and making no way through the water shall sound
at intervals of riot more than 2 minutes two prolonged blasts in succession with an interval of
about 2 seconds between them.

A power-driven vessel making way through the water shall sound at intervals of not more than 2
minutes one prolonged blast.
A power-driven vessel underway but stopped and making no way through the water shall
sound at intervals of not more than 2 minutes two prolonged blasts in succession with an
interval of about 2 seconds between them.

A vessel not under command, a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre, a vessel constrained
by her draught, a sailing vessel, a vessel engaged in fishing and a vessel engaged ii-i towing or
pushing another vessel shall, instead of the signals prescribed in paragraphs (a) or lb) of this
Rule, sound at intervals of riot more than 2 minutes three blasts in succession, namely one
prolonged followed by two short blasts.
A vessel engaged in fishing, when at anchor, and a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre
when carrying out her work at anchor, shall instead of the signals prescribed in paragraph (g) of
this Rule sound the signal prescribed in paragraph of this Rule.
A vessel towed or if more than one vessel is towed the last vessel of the tow, if manned, shall at
intervals of riot more than 2 minutes sound four blasts in succession, namely one prolonged
followed by three short blasts. When practicable, this signal shall be made immediately after
the signal made by the towing vessel.

When a pushed vessel and a vessel being pushed ahead are rigidly connected in a composite unit
they shall be regarded as a power driven vessel and shall give the signals prescribed in
paragraphs (a) or (b) of this Rule.
A vessel at anchor shall at intervals of not more than one minute ring the bell rapidly for about 5
seconds. In a vessel of I 00 m or ignore in length the bell shall be sounded in the forepart of the
vessel and immediately after the ringing of the bell the gong shall be sounded rapidly for about 5
seconds in the after part of the vessel. A vessel at anchor may in addition sound three blasts in
succession, namely one short, one prolonged and one short blast, to give warning of her position
and of the possibility of collision to an approaching vessel.
A vessel aground shall give the bell signal and if required the gong signal prescribed in
paragraph (g) of this Rule and shall, in addition, give three separate and distinct strokes on the
bell immediately before and after the rapid ringing of the bell. A vessel aground may ill addition
sound an appropriate whistle signal.
A vessel of less than 12 m in length shall not be obliged to give tile above-mentioned signals but,
if she does not, shall make some other efficient sound signal at intervals of not more than 2
minutes.
A pilot vessel when engaged on pilotage duty may in addition to the signals prescribed in
paragraphs (a), lb) or (g) of this Rule sound an identify signal consisting of four short blasts.

Rule 36
Signals to attract attention
If necessary to attract the attention of another vessel any vessel may make light or sound signals
that cannot be mistaken for any signal authorized elsewhere in these Rules, or may direct the
beam of her searchlight in the direction of the danger, in such a way as not to embarrass any
vessel.
Any light to attract the attention of another vessel shall be such that it cannot be mistaken for any
aid to navigation.
For the purpose of this Rule the use of high intensity intermittent or revolving lights, such as
strobe lights, shall be avoided.
Rule 37
Distress signals
When a vessel is in distress and requires assistance she shall use or exhibit the signals described
in Annex IV to these Regulations.
PART E - EXEMPTIONS
Rule 38
Exemptions
PLEASE READ FROM THE NOTES AND FROM THE COLREGS
Annex I
Positioning and technical details of lights and shapes
1 Definition
The term height above the hull means height above the uppermost continuous deck. This
height shall be measured from the position vertically beneath the location of the light.
2 Vertical positioning and spacing of lights
On a power-driven vessel of 20 metres or more in length the masthead lights shall be placed as
follows:
The forward masthead light, or if only one masthead light is carried, then that light, at a height
above the hull of not less than 6 metres, and, if the breadth of the vessel exceeds 6 metres, then at
a height above the hull not less than such breadth, so however that the light need not be placed at
a greater height above the hull than 12 metres;
On a vessel of less than 20 metres in length such lights shall be spaced not less than 1metre
apart and the lowest of these lights shall, except where a towing light is required, be placed at a
height of not less than 2 metres above the gunwale.

The vertical separation of masthead lights of power-driven vessels shall be such that in all
normal conditions of trim the after light will be seen over and separate from the forward light at
a distance of 1,000 metres from the stem when viewed from sea level.

The masthead light of a power-driven vessel of 12 metres but less than 20 metres in length shall
be placed at a height above the gunwale of not less than 2.5 metres.

A power-driven vessel of less than 12 metres in length may carry the uppermost light at a height
of less than 2.5 metres above the gunwale. When however a masthead light is carried in addition
to sidelights and a stemlight or the all-round light prescribed in Rule 23 (c) (i) is carried in
addition to sidelights, then such masthead light or all-round light shall be carried at least I metre
higher than the sidelights.
One of the two or three masthead lights prescribed for a power-driven vessel when engaged in
towing or pushing another vessel shall be placed in the same position as either the forward
masthead light or the after masthead light; provided that, if carried on the aftermast, the lowest
after masthead light shall be at least 4.5 metres vertically higher than the forward masthead light.
The masthead light or lights prescribed in Rule 23 (a) shall be so placed as to be above and clear
of all other lights and obstructions except as described in subparagraph (ii),
When it is impracticable to carry the allround lights prescribed by Rule 27 (b) (i) or Rule 28
below the masthead lights, they may be carried above the after masthead light(s) or vertically in
between the forward masthead light(s) and after masthead light(s), provided that in the latter case
the requirement of Section 3 (c) of this Annex shall be complied with.
The sidelights of a power-driven vessel shall be placed at a height above the hull not greater than
three-quarters of that of the forward masthead light. They shall not be so low as to be interfered
with by deck lights.

The sidelights, if in a combined lantern and carried on a power-driven vessel of less than 20
metres in length, shall be placed not less than 1 metre below the masthead light.
When the Rules prescribe two or three lights to be carried in a vertical line, they shall be spaced
as follows:
on a vessel of 20 metres in length or more such lights shall be spaced not less than 2 metres
apart, and the lowest of these lights shall, except where a towing light is required, be placed at a
height of not less than 4 metres above the hull;

When the Rules prescribe two or three lights to be carried in a vertical line, they shall be spaced
as follows:
on a vessel of less than 20 metres in length such lights shall be spaced not less than I metre
apart and the lowest of these lights shall, except where a towing light is required, be placed at a
height of not less than 2 metres above the hull.
When three lights are carried they shall be equally spaced.
The lower of the two all-round lights prescribed for a vessel when engaged in fishing shall be at
a height above the sidelights not less than twice the distance between the two vertical lights.
The forward anchor light prescribed in Rule 30 (a)(i), when two are carried, shall not be less than
4.5 metres above the after one. On a vessel of 50 metres or more in length this forward anchor
light shall be place at a height of not less than 6 metres above the hull.

3 Horizontal positioning and spacing of lights


When two masthead lights are prescribed for a power-driven vessel, the horizontal distance
between them shall not be less than one-half of the length of the vessel but need not be more than
100 metres. The forward light shall be placed not more than one-quarter of the length of the
vessel from the stem.

On a power-driven vessel of 20 metres or more in length the sidelights shall not be placed in
front of the forward masthead lights. They shall be placed at or near the side of the vessel.
When the lights prescribed in Rule 27 (b) (i) or Rule 28 are placed vertically between the
forward masthead light(s) and the after masthead light(s) these all-round lights shall be placed at
a horizontal distance of not less than 2 metres from the fore and aft centreline of the vessel in the
athwartship direction.
4 Details of location of direction-indicating lights for fishing vessels, dredgers and vessels
engaged in underwater operations
The light indicating the direction of the outlying gear from a vessel engaged in fishing as
prescribed in Rule 26 (c) (ii) shall be placed at a horizontal distance of not less than 2 metres and
not more than 6 metres away from the two allround red and white lights. This light shall be
placed not higher than the all-round white light prescribed in Rule 26 (c) (i) and not lower than
the sidelights.
The lights and shapes on a vessel engaged in dredging or underwater operations to indicate the
obstructed side and/or the side on which it is safe to pass, as prescribed in Rule 27 (d) (i) and (ii),
shall be placed at the maximum practical horizontal distance, but in no case less than 2 metres,
from the lights or shapes prescribed in Rule 27 (b) (i) and (ii). In no case shall the upper of these
lights or shapes be at a greater height than the lower of the three lights or shapes prescribed in
Rule 27 (b) (i) and (ii).
5 Screens for sidelights
The sidelights of vessels of 20 metres or more in length shall be fitted with inboard screens
painted matt black, and meeting the requirements of Section 9 of this Annex. On vessels of less
than 20 metres in length the sidelights, if necessary to meet the requirements of Section 9 of this
Annex, shall be fitted with inboard matt black screens. With a combined lantern, using d single
vertical filament and a very narrow division between the green and red sections, external screens
need not be fitted.
6 Shapes
Shapes shall be black and of the following sizes:
a ball shall have a diameter of not less than 0.6 metre;
a cone shall have a base diameter of not less than 0.6 metre and a height equal to its diameter;
a cylinder shall have a diameter of at least 0.6 metre and a height of twice its diameter;

Shapes shall be black and of the following sizes:


a diamond shape shall consist of two cones as defined in (ii) above having a common base.

The vertical distance between shapes shall be at least 1.5 metre.


In a vessel of less than 20 metres in length shapes of lesser dimensions but commensurate with
the size of the vessel may be used and the distance apart may be correspondingly reduced.

7 Colour specification of lights


PLEASE READ FROM THE NOTES AND FROM THE COLREGS
8 Intensity of lights
PLEASE READ FROM THE NOTES AND FROM THE COLREGS
9 Horizontal sectors
PLEASE READ FROM THE NOTES AND FROM THE COLREGS
10 Vertical sectors
PLEASE READ FROM THE NOTES AND FROM THE COLREGS
11 Intensity of non-electric lights
Non-electric lights shall as far as practicable comply with the minimum intensities, as specified
in the Table given in Section 8 of this Annex.
12 Manoeuvring light
Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 2 (f) of Annex the manoeuvring light described in
Rule U ib) shall be placed in the:
same fore and aft vertical plane as the masthead light or lights and,
where practicable, at a minimum height of 2 metres vertically above the forward masthead light,
provided that it shall be carried not less than 2 metres vertically above or below the after
masthead light.
On a vessel where only one masthead light is carried the manoeuvring light, if fitted, shall be
carried where it can best be seen, not less than 2 metres vertically apart from the masthead light.
13 Approval
The construction of lights and shapes and the installation of lights on board the vessel shall be to
the satisfaction of the appropriate authority of the State whose flag the vessel is entitled to fly.
Annex II
Additional signals for Fishing vessels Fishing in close proximity
1 General
The lights mentioned herein shall, if exhibited in pursuance of Rule 26 (d), be placed where they
can best be seen.
They shall be at least 0.9 metre apart but at a lower level than lights prescribed in Rule 26 (b) (i)
and (c) (i).
The lights shall be visible all round the horizon at a distance of at least 1 mile but at a lesser
distance than the lights prescribed by these Rules for fishing vessels.
2 Signals for trawlers
Vessels when engaged in trawling, whether using demersal or pelagic gear, may exhibit:
when shooting their nets: two white lights in a vertical line;
when hauling their nets: one white light over one red light in a vertical line;
when the net has come fast upon an obstruction: two red lights in a vertical line.
Each vessel engaged in pair trawling may exhibit:
by night, a searchlight directed forward and in the direction of the other vessel of the pair;
when shooting or hauling their nets or when their nets have come fast upon an obstruction, the
lights prescribed in 2 (a) above.
3 Signals for purse seiners
Vessels engaged in fishing with purse seine gear may exhibit two yellow lights in a vertical line.
These lights shall flash alternately every second and with equal light and occultation duration.
These lights may be exhibited only when the vessel is hampered by its fishing gear.
Annex III
Technical details of sound signal appliances
1 Whistles
(a) Frequencies and range of audibility
The fundamental frequency of the signal shall lie within the range 70-700 Hz.
The range of audibility of the signal from a whistle shall be determined by those frequencies,
which may include the fundamental and/or one or more higher frequencies, which lie within the
range 180-700 Hz ( 1 per cent) and which provide the sound pressure levels specified in
paragraph 1 (c) below.
1 Whistles
(b) Limits of fundamental frequencies
To ensure a wide variety of whistle characteristics, the fundamental frequency of a whistle shall
be between the following limits:
(i) 70-200 Hz, for a vessel 200 metres or more in length;
(ii) 130-350 Hz, for a vessel 75 metres but less than 200 metres in length;
(iii) 250-700 Hz, for a vessel less than 75 metres in length.

c) Sound signal intensity and range of audibility


A whistle fitted in a vessel shall provide, in the direction of maximum intensity of the whistle
and at a distance of I metre from it, a sound pressure level in at least one 1/3rd-octave band
within the range of frequencies 180-700 Hz ( 1 per cent) of not less than the appropriate figure
given in the table below.
c) Sound signal intensity and range of audibility

The range of audibility in the table above is for information and is approximately the range
at which a whistle may be heard on its forward axis with 90 per cent probability in conditions of
still air on board a vessel having average back-ground noise level at the listening posts (taken to
be 68 dB in the octave band centred on 250 Hz and 63 dB in the octave band centred on 500 Hz).
In practice the range at which a whistle may be heard is extremely variable and depends
critically on weather conditions; the values given can be regarded as typical but under conditions
of strong wind or high ambient noise level at the listening post the range may be much reduced.
(d) Directional properties
(e) Positioning of whistles
When a directional whistle is to be used as the only whistle on a vessel, it shall be installed with
its maximum intensity directed straight ahead.
A whistle shall be placed as high as practicable on a vessel, in order to reduce interception of the
emitted sound by obstructions and also to minimize hearing damage risk to personnel. The
sound pressure level of the vessels own signal at listening posts shall not exceed 110 dB (A) and
so far as practicable should not exceed 100 dB (A).
f) Fitting of more than one whistle

If whistles are fitted at a distance apart of more than 100 metres, it shall be so arranged that
they are not sounded simultaneously.
Combined whistle systems
If due to the presence of obstructions the sound field of single whistle or of one of the whistles
referred to in paragraph I (f) above is likely to have a zone of greatly reduced signal level, it is
recommended that a combined whistle system be fitted so as to overcome this reduction. For the
purposes of the Rules a combined whistle system is to be regarded as a single whistle. The
whistles of combined system shall be located at a distance apart of not more 100 metres and
arranged to be sounded simultaneously. The frequency of any one whistle shall differ from those
of the others by at least 10 Hz.
Bell or gong
(a) Intensity of signal
A bell or gong, or other device having similar sound characteristics shall produce a sound
pressure level of not less than 110 dB at a distance of I metre from it.
(b) Construction
Bells and gongs shall be made of corrosion resistant materials and designed to give a clear
tone. The diameter of the mouth of the bell shall be not less than 300 mm for vessels of 20
metres or more in length, and shall be not less than 200 mm for vessels of 12 metres or more but
of less than 20 metres in length. Where practicable, a power-driven bell striker is recommended
to ensure constant force but manual operation shall be possible. The mass of the striker shall be
not less than 3 per cent of the mass of the bell.
3 Approval
The construction of sound signal appliances, their performance and their installation on board the
vessel shall be to the satisfaction of the appropriate authority of the State whose flag the vessel is
entitled to fly.
Annex IV
Distress signals
The following signals, used or exhibited either together or separately,
indicate distress and need of assist
1. a gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute;
2. a continuous sounding with any fog-signalling apparatus;
3. rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals;
4. a signal made by radiotelegraphy or by any other signalling method consisting of the
group (SOS) in the Morse Code;
5. a signal sent by radiotelephony consisting of the spoken word Mayday;
6. the International Code Signal of distress indicated by N.C.;
7. a signal consisting of a square flag having above or below it a ball or anything resembling a
ball;
8. flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.);
9. a rocket parachute flare or a hand-flare showing a red light;
10. a smoke signal giving off orange-coloured smoke
11. slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side;
12. the radiotelegraph alarm signal;
13. the radiotelephone alarm signal;
14. signals transmitted by emergency positioning-indicating radio beacons;
15. approved signals transmitted by radio communication systems, including survival craft radar
transponders.
2 The use or exhibition of any of the foregoing signals except for the Purpose of indicating
distress and need of assistance and the use of other signals which may be confused with any of
the above signals is prohibited.
3 Attention is drawn to the relevant sections of the International Code of Signals, the
Merchant Ship Search and Rescue Manual and the following signals:
(a) a piece of orange-coloured canvas with either a black square and circle or other
appropriate symbol (for identification from the air);
(b) a dye marker.