Maritime New Zealand issued a safety bulletin cautioning mariners on the use of mobile phones. The bulletin stated that three people have been killed in recent collisions as a result of skippers being distracted by their use of mobile phones. A number of serious injuries have also occurred.
It is important to note that mobile phones may serve a useful function as a backup means of emergency communication. However, it is clear that their use by skippers and masters to receive or make calls or text messages needs to be managed appropriately to the circumstances of each operation. This risk is heightened while a vessel is underway, with the likelihood and consequences of an accident being greater when vessels are operated:
• at speed
• in poor sea conditions
• in conditions of restricted visibility
• close to other vessels
• close to navigation hazards