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COLREGS - The Rules are divided into five parts A-E - General Rules (A), Steering and Sailing (B), Lights and Shapes (C), Sound and Light (D) and Exemptions (E).



Rule 6 deals with safe speed.


It requires that: "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."


The Rule describes the factors which should be taken into account in determining safe speed. Several of these refer specifically to vessels equipped with radar. The importance of using "all available means" is further stressed in Rule 7.

In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken into account:

(a) By all vessels:


(i) the state of visibility;
(ii) the traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels;
(iii) the manoeuvrability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability in the prevailing conditions;
(iv) at night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter of her own lights;

(v) the state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards;
(vi) the draught in relation to the available depth of water.


(b) Additionally, by vessels with operational radar:


(i) the characteristics, efficiency and limitations of the radar equipment;
(ii) any constraints imposed by the radar range scale in use;
(iii) the effect on radar detection of the sea state, weather and other sources of interference;
(iv) the possibility that small vessels, ice and other floating objects may not be detected by radar at an adequate range;
(v) the number, location and movement of vessels detected by radar;
(vi) the more exact assessment of the visibility that may be possible when radar is used to determine the range of vessels or other objects in the vicinity.



Rule 1 states that the rules apply to all vessels on the high seas and connected waters.
Rule 2 covers the responsibility of the master, owner and crew to comply with the rules.
Rule 3 includes definitions of applicable water craft (vessels).
Rule 4 says the section applies in any conditions of visibility.
Rule 5 every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing.
Rule 6 deals with safe speed.

Rule 7 risk assumptions shall not be made on scanty (radar) information.
Rule 8 covers action to be taken to avoid collision.
Rule 9 vessels proceeding along a narrow channel should keep to starboard.
Rule 10 deals with the behaviour of vessels in or near traffic separation schemes. 


Part C - LIGHTS & SHAPES (Rules 20-31)




Part E - EXEMPTIONS - Rule 38


Part F - Convention compliance verification provisions Rules 39 - 41


Annex I - Positioning and technical details of lights and shapes


Annex II - Additional signals for fishing vessels fishing in close proximity

Annex III - Technical details of sounds signal appliances

Annex IV - Distress signals indicating distress and need of assistance




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