posted February 24, 2004 04:35 AM
To start with, you are required to be trained in the use of radar if you are an officer of a vessel in excess of 300 gross tons or a commercial vessel over
26' in length. This includes long range scanning, radar plotting, and/or equivalent systematic observation to determine if risk of collision exists.
The widespread availability of radar has brought an extremely useful and specific tool into the pilothouse and has caused mariners using it to be held to a
higher standard of "keeping a proper lookout".
If you have a radar or not, you are required to use all means in keeping a proper lookout. This means in a nutshell; all of your resources must be functional
and in use to keep a proper lookout.
The rules state;
Rule 5 Itnl&inl.: Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing
cicumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and the risk of collision.
And rule 6 Safe Speed pt.b;
Additionally, by vessels with operational radar:
the characteristics,efficiency and limitations of the radar equipment;
any constraints imposed by the radar scale in use;
the effect on radar detection of the sea state, weather and other sources of interference;
the possibility that small vessels, ice and other floating objects may not be detected by radar at an adequate range;
the number, location and movement of vessels detected by radar;
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.
A lookout is not just the guy on the bow on a foggy night, he is a just a part of it. Aside from the man up forward, you must consider all relevant factors
" including but not limited to the state of the weather, conditions of visibility, traffic density, and proximity to navigational hazards", to name a few.
If you have a functioning radar, it should be tuned in and in use, not ready for use, but in use.
You should be familiar with it's operation and limitations. It should be set to a range that is practical for the situation at the time, (close quarters-shorter
range)and observed at regular intervals. The utility of radar is it's ability to detect"risk of collision" before you have one. This early detection allows you to
take(this from the Rules) "early and substantial action to avoid collision".
As for increased liability, I can't state the law but it is apparent that if you have radar you should not only know how to use it, but use it well. By not having
that collision, you've saved lives, property and oh yeah, liability.
My personal opinion is this, if you have a radar and know how to use it, you are safer. If you don't have a radar, you better hope I have one.
Additionally, not having a radar these days is like not having headlights on your car. You know it's gonna get dark, why not be ready?
But I guess the question on liability goes to this, if you are required to have a radar, you ARE
more liable. Your license and training impose a higher responsibility on you.
If you are a pleasure boater with a thing for safety, you'll install and learn how to use this tool to it's greatest effect.
From: Celestial Navigation Home/Online