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.

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Maritime Safety News Today – 30th January 2008

January 30, 2008
Language Barrier Caused Coast Guard To Underestimate SF Bay Oil Spill
AHN – USA
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Shipping Times – UK
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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 
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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
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Posted 01/11/08 at 10:31 AM

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Bloomberg – USA
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AllAfrica.com – Washington,USA
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Shanghai Daily – Shanghai,China
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Chief Engineer Sentenced

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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
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The Grand Rapids Press – MLive.com – Grand Rapids,MI,USA
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Strong current, human error probable causes of barge hitting bridge
San Francisco Chronicle – CA, USA
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Basingstoke Gazette – Basingstoke,England,UK
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Scientists Unveil Cause of Estonia Ferry Disaster
Spiegel Online – Berlin,Germany
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Maritime Safety News Today – 28 November 2007

November 28, 2007

FATHER OF DEAD FEMALE SEA-FARER DOESN’T BELIEVE IT’S SUICIDE
Niu FM – Auckland,New Zealand
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KTUU – Anchorage,AK,USA
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Navigation authority issues safety alert as water level of Yangtze
Xinhua – China
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Bangladesh police detain 2 suspected people-traffickers, sinking
International Herald Tribune – France
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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

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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

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Posted 11/26/07 at 09:36 AM

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Estonia report supports official investigation
The Local – Sweden
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Posted 11/27/07 at 10:14 AM

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Gulf Daily News – Manama,Bahrain
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BOURBON OPENS TRAINING CENTRE
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
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