Military vessels versus civilian. Some thoughts.
The general rule of thumb is that the burdened vessel (the one with the least maneuverability) is the one with the right-of-way.
Vessels limited in maneuverability include.
Any vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver, such as a vessel towing or laying cable or a vessel constrained by its draft such as a large ship in a channel
A vessel engaged in commercial fishing. [This is basically one that is towing a big long net.]
If the fishing vessel was towing a big, long net, there was probably no way that it could have gotten out of the way of the submarine. It could have chopped the lines to its nets, but nets are expensive
THE LAW OF PHYSICS
There is another boating law, and it is the law of physics. The big, super tankers are both the length and mass of several city blocks worth of buildings. On intersecting courses normally a boat under sail has the right of way over a power boat. But when the power boat is a mega-ship and the sailboat is a 30-footer. the sailboat HAS TO give way. Reductio ad absurdum, a sail board can go 30 knots in a strong wind, then stop "on a dime" and roar off in the opposite direction. For a this sail board to challenge a mega-ship 'cause it is simply a sailboat it is a bit inconsiderate -- and suicidal.
http://safetycenter.navy.mil/bestpracti ... marine.htm
The Invisible Surfaced Submarine
Topic/issue: Submarine Operations (Surface)
Description: The submariner’s main focus is to remain undetected. While operating at periscope depth, they practice strict periscope discipline to minimize the opportunity for a surface vessel or aircraft to spot the periscope or wake through visual or electronic means. In so doing, submariners have instilled a mentality that the periscope is very easy to spot for even the most inexperienced adversary, and “If you can see them, then they can see you.” This is an effective mindset to have while trying to remain undetected. However, it has an unintended and potentially dangerous side effect while operating on the surface and making contact-management decisions based on this assumption.
In a recent collision, a merchant ship apparently violated the rules of the road (from the submarine's perspective) and turned right for a head-on situation. However, the merchant likely had no idea that the submarine was there, and therefore, was not constrained by the rules of the road since it was not "in sight" of another vessel in which a risk of collision existed.
The Undersea Enterprise (USE) conducted two studies to identify how difficult a surfaced submarine is to see and what measures or practices we can use to enhance visibility. The first study evaluated the three most commonly used radar reflectors. The second study looked at a submarine on the surface from the surface ship's perspective. The study found that, outside of 10K yards for an SSBN and 6,000 yards for an SSN, submarines were nearly impossible to see unless the merchant knew exactly where to look (i.e., had a radar return of the submarine) and used binoculars to look down the bearing of the radar return. Within those ranges, the submarine was visible to the naked eye, but was not discernable as a submarine and was easily mis-classified as a small craft.
The recent collision reinforced the difficulty of sighting a surfaced submarine at night. Background lighting, surrounding contact density, weather and sea state significantly impact the visibility of a surfaced submarine. When viewed from astern at night, and without the submarine ID beacon operating, a submarine may be confused with a small vessel due to the low height of the stern light and difficulty seeing the submarine hull.
Submarines must take measures to mitigate this risk and provide a better opportunity to ensure their presence is known. This includes use of radar reflectors, the submarine identification beacon during hours of darkness or when in reduced visibility, and bridge-to-bridge radios to communicate their presence. If the decision is made to not overtly advertise presence because of force protection concerns, then the command element must conduct a careful operational risk management analysis to ensure that additional mitigating measures are put in place to offset the reduced margin of safety.