How do ships maintain safe navigation and avoid collisions at night?

April 5, 2023

WM-L350C Long Range Lantern

Ships are one of the primary modes of transportation for goods. It is relatively less expensive than the amount you need to spend by air and also more environmentally friendly. However, the navigation process of ships is not so easy, especially during the night. There are many obstacles in the ocean that can lead to collisions. Hence, you are required to follow systematic methods and devices, including navigation warning lantern signals, radar, etc., to safely navigate the ship to reach the desired

Given below are a few important processes and essentials your ship must have at night for safe


A radar is an electromagnetic sensor that allows ships to detect the presence and movement of other vessels around a certain vicinity. In addition, it helps you grasp the distance, speed, and direction of other ships, making it an essential tool for navigation and collision avoidance.

VHF radio

Having a VHF radio on board makes your journey a smooth sail and also saves lives in case of urgency. When you are out in the ocean, you can be faced with many unforeseen circumstances due to change in weather and it’s environmental conditions. As such, you should consider keeping these radios on your ship.

These radios are exclusively designed to be used in adverse circumstances, such as high humidity, salt water, and sun, unlike other gadgets, and keep you updated with the status of other ships. Moreover, you can communicate with other vessels in the area without any issues and gain crucial information like their position, course, and speed.

Navigation lights

Navigation light or navigation warning lantern enables ships to send signals of their position, direction, and other information to each other. Based on the different colors and patterns of lights, you can deduce the type of vessel that is near you and the direction it will move, hence allowing other ships to take evasive action if necessary. For example, the colors of sidelights are green and red which are used for vessels coming from the side or head-on.


The sea looks different during the day and night. As the world gets darker, it becomes absolute to stay aware of your environment so you do not face any accidents. Lookouts hold a crucial role to keep you updated, especially at night when the navigation channel is not visible. Having an experienced lookout will make your journey more safer. They will observe the circumstance and report if there are any potential hazards, including other marine lantern signals, floating objects, and changes in weather conditions will greatly help.

AIS (Automatic Identification System)

Installing AIS (Automatic Identification System) in your ship enhances maritime safety. It is a tracking system that is utilized to collect, store, manage, process, retrieve, and report financial data. With AIS, you can identify other vessels and take appropriate action to avoid a collision.


Oceans are vast and full of things and beings that are yet to be discovered. Hence, when you sail on the waters, you should always be prepared to encounter any situation. Tools and processes, such as VHF radio, navigation warning lantern, etc., assist you to lead your ship in a way you can navigate safely even at night.



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