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    Re: Rules of the Road While Backing
    From: Brent Ferrantelli
    Date: 1999 Feb 07, 15:33 EST

    any thoughts on ships with z-drives or multiple thrusters that can move in a
    straight line in any direction?  Is this a case where the "bow" could be any
    point on the ships hull?  Also, someone mentioned rule 34 concerning sound
    signals when operation astern propulsion. . .how does this rule apply to
    z-drives etc.?
    QM2 Brent Ferrantelli. USCG
    >From: captainmike7@XXX.XXX
    >To: <navigation@XXX.XXX>
    >Subject: Re: [Nml] Rules of the Road While Backing
    >Date: Sat, Feb 1999, 2:58 AM
    > At 20:34 2/5/99 -0800, Dennis W. Farrell wrote in part:
    >>It is the practice of seamen to consider in such cases that the rules
    > apply with >reference to the direction of motion of the ship so that for
    > the time being, the >starboard side becomes the port side and the port side
    > the starboard side.
    >>In other words, we must consider the pilot of a backing vessel to be
    > facing aft >toward the direction in which his ship is moving.  He must then
    > keep clear of a >vessel on his right hand as if that were his starboard
    > side.  And his whistle signals >must correspond.
    > ______________________________________________________________
    > What, then, is the significance of Rule 34, which requires power-driven
    > vessels when meeting or crossing to sound three short blasts to mean "I am
    > operating astern propulsion"?  Surely not just to advise vessels off her
    > bows that she is backing AWAY from them?
    > This "direction-of-travel" interpretation is at odds with Rule 13(a):
    > "NOTWITHSTANDING ANYTHING contained in the rules of Part B, Sections I and
    > II, any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel
    > being overtaken" and 13(b) "A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when
    > coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft
    > her beam (i.e. 67.5 degrees either side of dead astern)...that is, in such
    > a position with reference to the vessel she is overtaking, that at night
    > she would be able to see only the sternlight of that vessel but neither of
    > her sidelights."  Note that there is no reference to direction of travel in
    > the "Overtaking" rule.  Under the "direction of travel" interpretation,
    > must the vessel backing at night also relocate her sidelights and
    > sternlight?  How else would other vessels know to treat her stern as her
    > bow?  Relative motion can be difficult to interpret in the dark.
    > I don't even want to BEGIN thinking about the situation where BOTH vessels
    > are backing toward one another at night, each at 65 degrees to the other's
    > stern.  Who's overtaking whom?
    > (It is worth noting that vessels making a habit of not turning around when
    > going back where they came from - primarily double-ended ferries -
    > generally have machinery and propellers at each end, so they do not operate
    > "astern propulsion".  They also reverse their navigation lights to
    > accommodate direction of travel).
    > P/Lt/C Michael A. LeButt, FC
    > Balboa (Newport Beach, CA) Squadron
    > "A ship in harbor is safe,
    >   but that's not what ships are for..."
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