RCS work boat code rule 'misguided'

Radar reflectors Radar reflectors are not compulsory. Image courtesy of Xofc/ Wikimedia Commons
Industry Database

A rule in the Workboat Code stipulating that if the radar cross section (RCS) of the vessel is greater than the radar reflector standard then carriage of the reflector is unnecessary is 'misguided'.

Criticising the statement in Section 19.3.1 of the Code, Echomax MD John Simpson says it enables vessel owners to decide whether they need a reflector, but there are no published RCS of a vessel, which is 'virtually impossible' to ascertain or assess by a layman as it varies from beam to stern to bows on.

He stressed whilst a beam on reflection can be massive, a slanting bows or sterns can have a stealth effect with a very low response. This means people could be putting their vessel at risk of a collision.

"This is one of the most misguided statements I have ever seen in an official document," he said. "Whilst acknowledging this may be the case for many large vessels it cannot be assumed to include many of the smaller vessels possibly up to 15m.”

Undetected vessels

Many collisions are caused by slower vessels being run down as they have not being picked up by the radar on faster larger vessels, he stressed. "Rules should not give owners the opportunity to make this type of decision which may put the lives of crew at risk."

He added: "Sea trials have confirmed over the years when the passive reflector is pulled into place or the RTE switched on the target vessels radar image improves as the vessels own RCS diminishes as the distance between vessel and radar increases and at or around five miles the radar reflector takes over."

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