The Philly as the "priviledged or stand-on" vessel (since she was being passed), only has to maintain course and speed. The freighter was the "burdened or give-way" vessel, since she was doing the passing. I would assume that if the captain and crew are disciplined, it won't be due to a violation of the COLREGS or the General Prudential Rule but as it has been said - he let the danged thing get too close to him. He could have (but was not required to) change course and speed to avoid the collision.
72 COLREGS ( International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea - 1972 version) Part A Rule 2 states in part...
Rule 2 Responsibility
(a) 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.
(b) 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.
This is often referred to as the " "General Prudential Rule."
This Rule first states that all the Rules must be complied with, and the customary practices of good seamanship must be followed. But it then goes on to recognize that there may be "special circumstances." Its intention is to apply common sense to the interpretation and application of the Rules, and to prevent any perversion of the Rules to avoid the consequences of their misconstruction or misapplication.
It recognizes that a departure from the strict language of the Rules may be required to avoid immediate danger - no vessel has the right of way through another vessel!
There may be special situations where a departure from the Rules is not only desirable, but is required. Should a collision result, strict literal compliance with the Rules may not be a defense.