Incident between Missile Boat and Pilot Boat West of Emäsalo 1.12.2018

Published 25.10.2019

The investigation of the Safety Investigation Authority, Finland, on the incident between a missile boat and a pilot boat west of Emäsalo island on 01/12/2018 has been completed. The incident took place in the early hours of the morning when a Navy missile boat and a pilot boat of Finnpilot Pilotage Oy ended up in a situation where the pilot boat was coming on a collision course directly towards the missile boat. Upon noticing the missile boat, the pilot boat driver managed to make a steep evasive movement. The ships passed each other at a distance of about 40 meters. The incident did not require any rescue services.

The Safety Investigation Authority, Finland, issues two recommendations to prevent similar situations:

The first recommendation applies to the operating principle to move unnoticed:

Primarily Navy ships do not send AIS (Automated Identification System) location and identifier information. In addition to the radar data of the VTS (Vessel Traffic Services Finland Oy) centres, their situation picture is based on the AIS system information transmitted by ships. In the incident under investigation, the missile boat had dropped off the VTS radar monitoring, and in the missile boat they had not identified the possibility of the pilot boat not noticing the missile boat on its way in the navigation channel.

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends that the Navy perform a risk assessment of the significance of the oversight of its operations to the safety of its own and other vessels and to the possibilities of the VTS to monitor the general safety of the maritime traffic in its area. The Navy prepares instructions for the measures necessary for the management of the identified risks.

- The significance of a comprehensive VTS situational picture is emphasized in busy traffic areas and during busy traffic seasons. In order to secure safe navigation, it is important for sea traffic control to get sufficient information in all situations also from authoritative ships working in the area, states professor Veli-Pekka Nurmi, head of the Safety Investigation Authority, Finland.

The Safety Investigation Authority also recommends that the Navy and Finnpilot Pilotage Oy agree with the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency on procedures for reporting incidents for the overall development of maritime safety.

The missile and pilot boat staffs made occurrence reports on the incident and these were discussed within each organization, but no official statement was made of the event.

- For the sake of maritime safety it is especially important for the Traffic and Communications Agency to be informed of all serious seafaring incidents, in which the parties have been merchant vessels or vessels not subject to the law, emphasizes Chief Safety Investigator Risto Haimila.

Link to the summary and the investigation report:

Further information:

Risto Haimila Chief Investigator tel. +358 2951 50730

Veli-Pekka Nurmi Director, professor tel. +358 2951 50701