THE Government is to launch a massive crackdown on vessel operators who flaunt the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (Colreg) in Victoria Harbour from February 5.
The exercise, which will be carried out by the Marine Department and the marine police, could result in offenders facing a maximum fine of $25,000.
'A Marine Department notice incorporating the essential parts of Rules 5, 6 and 9 of Colreg has been issued to remind vessel operators to take heed of the rules,' general manager (local services) Lo Kwok-tai said.
Mr Lo will launch a marine safety campaign today.
'The Marine Department and the marine police will deploy extra launches in the harbour to issue warnings to those who fail to follow the rules of the road,' Mr Lo said.
'If they ignore our appeals and warnings, officers from the two departments will definitely take enforcement action against them when the one-week grace period expires on February 5.' Last year, the Marine Department prosecuted 22 people for breaching the rules.
'We hope to send them a clear message that we will not tolerate the non-compliance of the rules on safe navigation,' Mr Lo said.
The Marine Department advised masters, coxswains and persons in charge of vessels to observe good practices of seamanship such as: Maintaining a constant and proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means to determine whether there is a risk of collision; Proceeding at a safe speed appropriate to the circumstances and not to exceed the maximum permitted speed; Not entering marine works areas; Keeping the Tsim Sha Tsui light buoy on the port side when proceeding on the Hunghom fairway; and Using proper sound signals whenever required to do so.
When vessels engaged in towing, the department said the tow line should not exceed the length of the vessel being towed, or 2.5 times the length of the towing vessel, whichever was greater.
Operators were advised to ensure appropriate lights and signals were displayed and that not more than two vessels could be towed by a single tug at one time.
The Marine Department reminded mariners using principal fairways in the central part of Victoria Harbour to keep to the starboard side as far as it was safe and practicable, in accordance with Rule 9 of Colreg.