Section 1 — Conduct of Vessels in any Condition of Visibility
Rule 10: Traffic separation schemes
a. This Rule applies to traffic separation schemes adopted by the Organization and does not relieve any vessel of her obligation under any other Rule.
Meaning: The objective of this rule of the COLREGS is that although IMO may enforce traffic separation schemes, but the instructions in this rule shall not go against the rules as stated elsewhere in the COLREGS. So a vessel even when in a TS has to obey the other rules as well as this rule on TS.
b. A vessel using a traffic separation scheme shall:
(i) proceed in the appropriate traffic lane in the general direction of traffic flow for that lane;
Meaning: The ship shall go in the direction of the lane – not opposite and not at too great an angle to the lane as marked on the chart. The course line as drawn should be parallel or nearly parallel to the direction of the lane. If the marked lane is showing a direction of 270° then the course line should be almost close to 270° and the ship should always steer the course unless of course set and drift make her steer another course, she should at least have CMG in the general direction as stated.
(ii) so far as practicable keep clear of a traffic separation line or separation zone;
Meaning: Ships should as far as possible lay their course line away from the edges of the traffic lane on either side and follow the same. Preferably drawn through the centre of the lane.
(iii) normally join or leave a traffic lane at the termination of the lane, but when joining or leaving from either side shall do so at as small an angle to the general direction of traffic flow as practicable.
Meaning: When entering or leaving a TS, make your course line join the TS at the beginning or at the end of the TS. If however the vessel has to join or leave from the side, say for an engine to be stopped or other emergencies, then the exit or entry course line should have as small an angle to the general arrow direction as possible.
It is almost similar to driving on the road, a car indicates her side lights and slowly edges from the centre of the road to the edge to take the side road. No car suddenly moves from the centre of the road to the side road.
c. A vessel shall, so far as practicable, avoid crossing traffic lanes but if obliged to do so shall cross on a heading as nearly as practicable at right angles to the general direction of traffic flow.
Meaning: Case 1: A vessel is not following a TS, she decides to cross the TS and go over to the other side, in this case, she has to bisect the TS at 90° or nearly so, since that is the shortest distance to cut and also the other vessels are not in confusion as to what this vessel is doing.
Case 2: A vessel has to exit the TS under exceptional circumstances, then first she moves at a small angle and goes to the edge of the TS and then crosses the opposite TS lane at 90° or nearly so.
(i) A vessel shall not use all inshore traffic zone when she can safely use the appropriate traffic lane within the adjacent traffic separation scheme. However, vessels of less than 20 m in length, sailing vessels, and vessels engaged in fishing may use tile inshore traffic zone.
Meaning: IMO has demarcated Inshore TZ, this is not supposed to be used by any vessel, so no course lane or navigation may be done within the zone, however, vessels less than 20m in length, sailing vessels and fishing vessels (only if they are fishing) may use them.
Since this is equivalent to a road divider – and as we know that cars do not drive on road dividers.
(ii) Notwithstanding subparagraph (d)(i), a vessel may use an inshore traffic zone when en route to or from a port, offshore installation or structure, pilot station or any other place situated within the inshore traffic zone, or to avoid immediate danger.
Meaning: Ships may use the TSZ in exceptional circumstances. Like when using a facility by the side of these zones or in the case of emergencies.
e. A vessel other than a crossing vessel or a vessel joining or leaving a lane shall not normally enter a separation zone or cross a separation line except:
(i) in cases of emergency to avoid immediate danger,
Meaning: as explained above
(ii) to engage in fishing within a separation zone.
Meaning: as explained above
f. A vessel navigating in areas near the terminations of traffic separation schemes shall do so with particular caution.
Meaning: When a ship is near a termination area like the joining or leaving point to a TSS, the ships should be alert, lookouts should be posted, Radar’s should be working – at least 2, the engines to be on standby and the person steering should be alert. All emergency measures for change over should be tried out. The engine room should be informed. This because this is when the ships sailing at their normal safe speed will be quite close to each other and anything may happen.
g. A vessel shall so far as practicable avoid anchoring in a traffic separation scheme or in areas near its terminations.
Meaning: No anchoring is permitted within the TSS or around its terminations, except in emergencies when a ship may anchor – please make sure about the extreme emergency.
h. A vessel not using a traffic separation scheme shall avoid it by as wide a margin as is practicable.
Meaning: If a vessel is not going to use the TSS, then they should be as far away as possible from the TSS, this so that they do not cause confusion for the ships which are heading to or leaving the TSS.
i. A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any vessel following a traffic lane.
Meaning: Fishing vessels while fishing in a TS Zone should not come into the TSS and thus obstruct the safe passage of another ship sailing along the TSS because this would defeat the purpose of the TSS if the ships have to weave through the fishing vessels and their nets.
j. A vessel of less than 20metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the safe passage of a power-driven vessel following a traffic lane.
Meaning: These small vessels should not come and disturb the passage of a ship following a TSS, they can sail along the TS Zone to which they are permitted.
k. A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre when engaged in an operation for the maintenance of safety of navigation in a traffic separation scheme is exempted from complying with this rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.
Meaning: Let us say that a ship which is repairing a buoy or renewing it within a TSS. Then obviously the vessel is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre, in this case, the work has to be done for the safety of the ships in the TSS, so this vessel would not have to follow the rules for vessels in the TSS. For other ships, the signals as hoisted by the working vessel should be carefully noted and the ship should pass clear of the restricted vessel, the restricted vessel may not comply with the rules of TSS.
l. A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre when engaged in an operation for the laying, servicing or picking up of a submarine cable, within a traffic separation scheme, is exempted from complying with this rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.
Meaning: Like the above explanation, these vessels are also exempt. Thus the alertness on the part of other vessels is to be very sharp. However, once the work is finished the restricted ship no longer enjoys the exemption from complying with this part of the rule.