Clutter By Any Other Name Is A Rock

This, from the ATSB’s report on the grounding of the offshore tug Massive Tide on 29 August 2006 doesn’t need much comment:

“The radar mounted next to the chart table was not working on 29 August or over the preceding days. Consequently, the forward bridge console mounted Koden MD-3840 radar was in use on the morning of the grounding. The second mate set the radar in the north up mode and on the 12 mile range scale. He was accustomed to using more modern radars and electronic charting systems; consequently, he was only using the radar for collision avoidance. During the voyage, the second mate had found the echoes of some targets were hard to read so he increased the radar’s clutter and gain controls. There was some ‘clutter’ showing on the screen but as he was not using the radar for navigation it did not seem important to him. When the master arrived on the bridge after the grounding, he reduced the radar range scale and adjusted the clutter and gain controls. What had appeared to the second mate to be ‘clutter’ was, in fact, Rosemary Island.”

Massive Tide
Top (Black) line, where the Massive Tide was supposed to go,
Bottom (Red) where she actually went.

Okay, I will make a comment, the second mate had already seen the lights on Rosemary Island and the lights of nearby ships and noticed that they didn’t seem to be in the right place. Says the ATSB report “Despite detecting these critical cues, the second mate either did not understand their significance or was averse to the mental effort involved in concluding that the ship was not in the correct position.”


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