TSB Launches Discreet Queen Of The North Report

March 13, 2008
Queen Of The North

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board blames poor watchkeeping practices which lead to a course change not being made for the loss of the  8,889 gross tonnes ferry Queen Of The North on March 22, 2006 at Gil Island, Wright Sound, British Columbia, but has declined to provide details of a personal 14 minute conversation between the ship’s fourth officer and the quartermaster on the bridge immediately before the accident.

Speculation about what was said or happened has been of particular interest because  the female quartermaster and the male fourth officer had been in a relationship which ended two weeks before the incident. This was the first watch they had been on together since the break-up.

Despite aggressive questioning from some Canadian journalists, TSB chairman Wendy Tadros declined to give details of the conversation except to say “we have no evidence that it was a fight.”

Behind the discretion is concern about the willingness of crews to  provide information relevant to future investigations. While maritime accident investigations do not depend wholly on crew statements and recollections, often the weakest of evidence, they are still an important element and the co-operation of crew in giving information could be compromised by revealing personal details that do not directly relate to making travel safer.

Said Tadros “We learned what was happening with the vessel… we learned what we needed to learn.”

TSB has recommended the introduction of Voyage Data Recorders, VDRs, the maritime equivalent of aviation’s “little black box”, onto Canadian vessels. These record instrument data as well as what is spoken on the bridge.

About half the investigation’s $900,000 cost went on an ROV dive to recover data from the ship at a depth of some 1,500 metres.  The vessel’s Transas ECS was recovered, together with the AIS, GPS and DSC radio. The ECS data was able to be extracted.

The Queen of the North grounded and sank after failure to make a course change which the fourth officer believed he had ordered. Several distractions may have contributed to the failure. As second course change was due 27 minutes later but he did not monitor whether the first change had been made as he was involved in a personal conversation with the quartermaster for the next 14 minutes.

When he did realise that the vessel was off course, his actions were too little, too late, to prevent striking the island. ECS alarms that might have given a warning were switched off.

There a further delay in responding to the situation because the quartermaster was not familiar with the bridge equipment and did not know how to switch off the autopilot and revert to manual steering.

There should, in fact, have been at least two qualified officers on the bridge but the second officer was on a scheduled meal break at the time of the incident.

“Accidents speak to a failure of the system,” said Tadros, “Essentially, the system failed that night. Sound watchkeeping practices were not followed and the bridge watch lacked a third certified person.”

In its conclusions , the TSB report notes: “The working environment on the bridge of the Queen of the North was less than formal, and the accepted principles of navigation safety were not consistently or rigorously applied. Unsafe navigation practices persisted which, in this occurrence, contributed to the loss of situational awareness by the bridge team.”

At 08:00 p.m. on March 21, 2006, the passenger and vehicle ferry Queen of the North departed Prince Rupert, British Columbia, for Port Hardy, British Columbia. On board were 59 passengers and 42 crew members. After entering Wright Sound from Grenville Channel, the vessel struck the northeast side of Gil Island at 12:21 a.m. on March 22.

The vessel sustained extensive damage to its hull, lost its propulsion, and drifted for 1 hour and 17 minutes before it sank in 430 m of water. Passengers and crew abandoned the vessel before it sank. Two passengers were unaccounted for after the abandonment and have since been declared dead.

The full report can be downloaded here.


Maritime Safety News Today – 30th January 2008

January 30, 2008
Language Barrier Caused Coast Guard To Underestimate SF Bay Oil Spill
crew and inexperience in assessing the accident prompted them to initially estimate the oil spill from the m/v Cosco Busan at 140 gallons. 
Royal Navy finds sunken wreck of ms EXPLORER
Shipping Times – UK
The seabed in the search area was flat and featureless, but a contact was detected at a range of 4373m from the reported sinking position of the vessel.
Data on sunken ferry held back
Vancouver Sun – British Columbia, Canada
BC Ferries has lost an appeal against a BC Supreme Court ruling that prevents the company from publishing a further report on the sinking of the ferry Queen 
ISU Conference to Include Casualty Simulation
Posted 01/29/08 at 10:41 AM
The significance of Lloyd’s Form (LOF), will provide the focus for the International Salvage Union’s Associate Members’ Day conference in London on April 2. This theme was chosen as 2008 is LOF’s centenary year…

Maritime Safety News Today – 13th January 2008

January 13, 2008
Two dead in Baltic Sea lifeboat accident
Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
Two people died and one was seriously injured in a lifeboat accident onboard a container freight ship in the Baltic Sea, officials said. 
Oil Tanker on Fire at Nigerian Port
Posted 01/11/08 at 10:31 AM

Reuters reported that an oil tanker burst into flames at Nigeria’s Port Harcourt on Friday after two loud explosions were heard, oil industry sources said. The tanker was berthed in a general cargo area, not at an oil exporting terminal, and crude exports from the world’s eighth largest oil exporter were not affected, the sources said..

Ferry Collision in Fog Near Macau Injures 140 People (Update1)
Bloomberg – USA
Low visibility may have caused the collision, Shun Tak- China Travel Ship Management Ltd., the operator of the two jetfoils, said in an e-mailed statement

Mozambique: Search for Shipwreck Bodies Called Off
AllAfrica.com – Washington,USA
The maritime authorities in the central Mozambican province of Sofala have called off the search for further survivors or bodies following the sinking of a 

Coal ships stranded as fog causes power crisis
Shanghai Daily – Shanghai,China
The Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration yesterday opened emergency water channels to allow coal-supply vessels to make deliveries. 

Chief Engineer Sentenced

WASHINGTON—Mark Humphries, the former chief engineer of the M/V Tanabata, an American-flagged car-carrier ship based in Baltimore, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to six months in prison for conspiracy to make illegal discharges of oily waste and lying to the Coast Guard, announced Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

Maritime Global Net – Warren,RI,USA
Units on scene reported that it was a close run thing that the vessel did not ground given the prevailing swell conditions and wind conditions which 

Drama in the Bay
Dorset Echo – England,UK
By Laura Kitching A TANKER at risk of grounding in Weymouth Bay is today secure at Portland Port. The 77000-tonne Mariella had drifted to within 200 metres 

Ship that hit bottom slightly damaged
The Grand Rapids Press – MLive.com – Grand Rapids,MI,USA
The Coast Guard was notified of the incident in Muskegon, as required after any reportable grounding, and a hull inspection showed minor damage to the 

Strong current, human error probable causes of barge hitting bridge
San Francisco Chronicle – CA, USA
However, maritime sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said a likely cause was that the barge got away from the tug Pacific Wolf because of strong 

RNLI’s broadside after alert over ferry passenger
Basingstoke Gazette – Basingstoke,England,UK
A LIFEBOAT charity has called on Red Funnel to review the way it counts passengers on and off its vessels. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution said the 

Scientists Unveil Cause of Estonia Ferry Disaster
Spiegel Online – Berlin,Germany
By Ulrich Jaeger Scientists in Hamburg have simulated the sinking of the Estonia, the 1994 Baltic Sea ferry disaster that killed 852 people. 

Maritime Safety News Today – 28 November 2007

November 28, 2007

Niu FM – Auckland,New Zealand
Auckland 6am: The family of the Kiribati woman seafarer said to have hanged herself say they saw no sign that was the case on her body.

Four people and a dog rescued from sinking ship
KTUU – Anchorage,AK,USA
It located the raft and rescued the four men and the dog about an hour later. All were in good condition after arriving in Kodiak. The vessel could not 

Navigation authority issues safety alert as water level of Yangtze
Xinhua – China
The “yellow warning”, the second highest level, was sent out bythe Yangtze River Maritime Safety Administration for a 680-kilometer stretch of the waterway

Bangladesh police detain 2 suspected people-traffickers, sinking
International Herald Tribune – France
The vessel sank in calm water and there was no clear indication what caused the accident, officials have said. Survivors have told police it was overcrowded 

Ambrose Light – safety zone

(On 3 November, 2007, the Ambrose Light was struck by an oil tanker, the Axel Spirit)

The US Coast Guard established a temporary safety zone, with a radius of 250 yards, around Ambrose Light, located approximately 8.35 nautical miles east of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The safety zone, which will be in effect through at least May 5, 2008, is intended to provide for the safety of life, property, and the environment during the survey and reconstruction of the light. 72 Fed. Reg. 65886 (November 26, 2007).

Platform Crew Airlifted to Safety After Blaze

Posted 11/27/07 at 09:58 AM

A fire on a North Sea oil platform led to the evacuation of 118 workers. The fire broke out on the Thistle Alpha platform, 325 miles north of Aberdeen and only five miles inside the UK search and rescue area…

Scotland’s Offshore Industry Issued Warning

Posted 11/26/07 at 09:31 AM

Scotland’s offshore oil industry was issued a government health warning by the Health and Safety Executive. The HSE published a new report which says more must be done to improve safety on oil and gas installations.

Coast Guard to Test Oil from Seven Ships in Spill

Posted 11/27/07 at 09:37 AM

Testing of oil samples taken from ships that might have spilled the fuel that washed up in Atlantic Beach and Long Beach last week will probably take place by next week, the Coast Guard said. After the approximately 500 gallons of heavy No..

Pemex May Tear Down Offshore Platform

Posted 11/26/07 at 09:36 AM

Pemex said it may tear down an offshore platform if its structure, hurt by a series of recent fires, weakens further to prevent more damage to adjacent oil-pumping facilities. On Tuesday, a fire broke out at the Kab-121 well on the Kab-101 platform in the Gulf of Mexico, which was damaged in a blaze last month that killed 21 workers.

Estonia report supports official investigation
The Local – Sweden
When enough water had entered the car deck, the vessel tilted to one side,” said Källström. The official explanations for the ferry sinking have been 

Ferry Experts and Legislators to Discuss Steel Electric Ferries

Posted 11/27/07 at 10:14 AM

Washington State Ferries will hold meetings regarding the status of the Steel Electric class vessels and Port Townsend/Keystone ferry service. Legislators and staff from affected ferry communities, Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond and Washington State Ferries Executive Director Mike Anderson will review current ferry status and discuss.. Gulf ships to join global green drive
Gulf Daily News – Manama,Bahrain
“There will be no costs to the legitimate standard vessels as they are modern vessels fitted and equipped and provided with skilled seafarers.

Maritime Global Net – Warren,RI,USA
One of the company’s anchor handlers, the Bourbon Dolphin capsized with the loss of eight lives in April. Although the Norwegian investigation into the

Maritime Accident News Today – 23 October 2007

October 23, 2007

Fatal ship in £155M coke haul
Sunday Mirror – UK
A freighter involved in a fatal accident has been seized off the coast of West Africa with cocaine worth £155million on board. Much of the stash found on

Up to 31 dead in Indonesia ferry accident
Radio AustraliaAustralia
Indonesia’s Transport Ministry says that only 60 people were recorded on the ship’s manifest before it capsized carrying an estimated 188 passengers. 

Official: 24 Drown Off Mexico Coast
The Associated Press –
The survivor was a 24-year-old Honduran woman who said the ship departed from Guatemala and that it capsized on Tuesday with more than 20 people aboard, .

Two dead in fishing boat accident
Earthtimes – London,UK
NEW YORK, Oct. 22 A fisherman aboard a capsized boat in New York survived for an hour and a half in an air bubble in the ship’s cabin.