What is Williamson’s Turn For Man Overboard? (How to Execute) 

High dynamic situations like man overboard require a high level of expertise and knowledge and good capacity to implement the right ship handling maneuver. All the bridge teams on board ships must be adequately trained and perform all the required drills according to the Solas regulations. 

Since the man Overboard is one of the most dangerous situations and a real threat for the man that falls in the sea, many maneuvers have been tested to reduce the response time, allowing the ships to reach the destination of the fallen man in the shortest time possible. 

Williamson’s turn is one of the most famous and highly successful maneuvers used on board ships to recover the man overboard. Williamson’s turn is a ship-handling maneuver used by ships and boats to reach the destination of the MOB in the shortest and most accurate time possible. 

Why use Williamson’s turn to rescue a Man Overboard?

If executed properly, Williamson’s turn guarantees several advantages, such as: 

  • An accurate return to the original track, with the benefit of a high possibility of finding the man overboard. 
  • As we will see in the next part, the maneuver is simple to execute. 
  • The quick procedure (depending on the execution time) will keep the MOB away from the propeller. 

The use of the Williamson Turn to rescue the MOB will be influenced by other factors such as weather conditions, visibility, and maneuvering characteristics of the ship. 

Factors to Consider Before Executing The Williamson’s turn

As mentioned early on, before proceeding with the execution of William’s turn, the officer of the watch must evaluate some essential factors. 

#1 Traffic

The first factor to consider before executing William’s turn is evaluating the traffic condition. If there is something that must be avoided in this situation is to make the situation worse by a collision with some other ships in the vicinity. 

So, firstly the officer on the watch and the bridge team must evaluate and be highly aware of traffic conditions. This is particularly important since the Williamson Turn is a maneuver that requires a lot of sea room. 

Suppose the ship is sailing in the open sea. In that case, this particular factor can be eliminated, and the officer, after calling the captain and following all the procedures dictated by the solas, can begin to implement the maneuver. 

#2 Time Passed from the received alarm

As ships usually move fast, the timing when the person effectively falls overboard to the received alarm on the bridge is an essential factor to consider before executing the Williamson Turn. 

This is important because, in the case of a missing person, the Williamson Turn could be avoided, choosing a more accurate maneuver. 

#3 Ships Maneuverability characteristics 

The third factor to consider and that must always be taken into consideration in every emergency on board ships is the ship’s maneuverability characteristics.  

Large ships such as ULCC tanker ships require a lot of sea room to execute this type of maneuver and long timing to return to the point where the MOB has been marked. 

How to Proper execute Williamson’s turn

The procedure for executing Williamson’s turn in the best manner possible requires four steps to be followed:

  1. The first action is to put the rudder towards the side from which the MOB has been looked, to reduce the chance of being sucted by the propellers actions.
  2. After an alteration of the course of 60 degrees, the rudder of the ship is put hard over the opposite side.
  3. Once the heading reaches approximately 20 degrees short of the reciprocal course, the rudder should be placed amidships, slowing down the engine and asking the lookout always to keep a sharp lookout. 

An important point to remember during the execution of the Williamson Turn: Since the Man overboard is a dynamic maneuver, the stress level may cause a lot of error. To minimize the possibility of error, it is highly suggested to take note of the heading before the execution to have an immediate value and make the proper calculation for the next heading. 

When should you use the Williams Turn? 

The Williams turn should be used when the ships have good Maneuverability and poor traffic conditions. These two factors are the main ones to consider regarding whether to choose a Williamson Turn or another type of rescue maneuver for recovering the MOB, such as the Anderson Turn.