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 – 11th March 2008

March 12, 2008

Three dead, one missing in SW China boat crash
Xinhua – China
The accident happened on the Wu River in Changshou District at 8 pm when a passenger ship from the suburban Fuling District crashed with the cargo ship 

Boat slams bridge
Sun.Star – Philippines
The head of the Mandaue City 701st Maritime Station, Chief Insp. Greg Togonon, said the accident was recorded in their blotter.

Late-winter storm in northwest of France beaches a Dutch cargo
Web in France Magazine – Miami,USA
The Dutch cargo liner was sailing empty, and so luckily the accident caused no pollution, according to the French maritime prefecture of the Atlantic.

USS John S. McCain Rescues ROK Fishing Vessel Crew Members
Posted 03/11/08 at 10:22 AM

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) assisted in the rescue of 11 crew members of a Republic of Korea (ROK) fishing vessel off the Korean Peninsula, March

Crew kin send SOS to Sonia
Daily News & Analysis – Mumbai,India
The families of missing crew of MV Rezzak, on Monday, demanded a CBI inquiry into the ship’s disappearance. They have written a letter to Congress president 

Crewing becoming ever more serious issue says broker
Offshore Shipping Online – Ledbury,England,UK
“With the Bourbon Dolphin report due out at the beginning of April, there is no doubt that safety offshore will be receiving close scrutiny over the coming

Marine pilots, tugs to rescue when ship breaks free
Mackay Daily Mercury – Australia
Maritime Safety Queensland Pilotage Services, Mackay, has been commended for its handling of the emergency. Strong northerly winds snapped mooring lines on 

EMSA TO EXPAND SPILL RESPONSE FLEET
Maritime Global Net – Warren,RI,USA
THE European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is launching a new procurement procedure for stand-by oil spill recovery vessels in the Black Sea and North Sea 

Ship owners must pay – lawsuit
Legalbrief (subscription) – Durban,South Africa
was part of an early settlement reached in a lawsuit his office filed against Regal Stone Ltd. of Hong Kong, which owns the Cosco Busan container ship. 

Start of Napoli grounding inquiry
Dorset Echo – England,UK
AN INQUIRY into the grounding of the MSC Napoli off the world heritage coast was launched yesterday at Branscombe, near where the storm-damaged ship was

Global Warming to Affect Transport
The Associated Press
The resulting lower water levels would reduce vessel shipping capacity, seriously impairing freight movements in the region, such as occurred during the .


Maritime Accidents Now Twice As Likely

February 23, 2008

From Det Norske Veritas 

Singapore: Updated figures for 2007 show that the losses from navigational accident within the shipping industry are continuing to increase. This trend is also confirmed by the insurance industry. Premiums may increase by as much as 30 per cent in 2008.

DNV monitors the annual frequency of serious accidents. Over the past five years, there has been an increasing incidence of serious navigational accidents in several shipping segments. This increase is confirmed by a lot of the leading insurance companies such as Skuld, Norwegian Hull Club and The Swedish Club.

In addition to the increasing frequency of navigational accidents, the cost of each repair caused by accidents is rising. The yards are overbooked, making it hard to find a repair slot resulting in increased prices. Collisions, groundings and contacts now account for 60% of the most costly accidents.

Dr. Torkel Soma, Principal Safety Consultant in DNV Maritime, says: “DNV’s statistics shows that a ship is twice as likely to be involved in a serious grounding, collision or contact accident today compared to only five years ago. In addition, estimates show that also the costs of these accidents have doubled. Since this is the general trend for the international commercial fleet, the maritime industry needs to act on this immediately.”

The boom in the shipping market and increased deliveries of newbuildings has resulted in pressure on crews. The shortage of officers has resulted in lower retention and faster promotion. As a result, the general level of experience is decreasing on board. At the same time new technical solutions have been introduced which might have increased the complexity of operations.

Dr. Soma pinpoint: “Reliable technology and complying manuals are no assurance against making errors. Collisions, groundings and contact accidents do almost always involve human acts.”

The latest figures were presented at a DNV seminar in Singapore. Helge Kjeøy, regional manager DNV Maritime South East Asia says: “The main factors explaining the negative developments over the past few years are – that the undersupply of crew worldwide results in reduced experience and that the high commercial pressure results in a high workload. Adding new and more complex equipment does not only help the situation. Avoiding accidents under such situations requires a good safety culture, something which the maritime industry evidently needs to focus more on.”

The experience of leading shipping companies shows that the focus has to be turned more in the direction of human elements and organisational factors, including all those involved – from the directors of the company to the officers on the bridge. Dr. Soma summarize: “Radical safety performance improvements with reduced accident frequency have been achieved through a structured approach addressing behaviour and culture. For the industry to maintain its traditional good track record, the resilience of operations has to be addressed on a larger scale by industry players.”


Maritime Safety News Today – 13th February 2008

February 14, 2008

25 feared dead in Uganda boat collision
AFP –
Sixteen managed to swim away… but 25 are believed dead,” he said, adding the feared death toll would make the collision one of Uganda’s deadliest ever 

Storms Upset Miss. River Ships, Kill 1
The Associated Press –
The Coast Guard also said a ship was grounded on the riverbank. There were no indications of serious levee damage, and the ship was not sinking,

Ships collide on river
The Times-Picayune – NOLA.com – New Orleans,LA,USA
The accident happened near the shore but did not cause any damage to the levee. “One ship hit another and it did get close to the shoreline,” said Jerry 

Mystery surrounds Cammell Laird contamination
Liverpool Daily Post – Liverpool,UK
MYSTERY still surrounds why three workmen on board a ship moored in Birkenhead fell ill and needed to undergo unpleasant decontamination. 

LNG Ship Disabled off Cape Cod
Posted 02/12/08 at 09:47 AM

The Unified Command at Coast Guard Sector Boston is continuing to monitor and assist the Liquefied Natural Gas tanker Catalunya Spirit, which lost propulsion and became disabled and adrift east of Cape Cod Monday morning.

Navy Cargo Ship Assists at-Sea Rescue
Posted 02/13/08 at 12:10 PM

Military Sealift Command large, medium-speed, RoRo ship USNS Seay conducted an at-sea rescue operation February 9 in the Straits of Gibraltar. At 12:50 a.m. the 950-ft. military cargo ship was notified by the Tarifa Rescue Coordination Center in Tarifa, Spain, that a small craft in their vicinity had issued a distress signal and needed assistance.

ship adrift as wild weather hits
Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
Thirty-seven passengers and crew were winched to safety from a sinking yacht in the Whitsundays. Two yachts have been wrecked, a train derailed, 

Sinking pleasure boat caused minor spill
Seattle Post Intelligencer – USA
why there was fuel in the boat’s bilges. A Seattle Fire Department vessel helped pump water from the sinking vessel. It was towed to the Elliott Bay Marina.

Sunken Ferramales oil leak is not “an environmental risk”
MercoPress – Montevideo,Uruguay
Penguin News confirmed that the Islands Marine Officer is conducting an investigation into the sinking of the vessel. Falklands’ Director of Fisheries John 

CG marks sinking that led to rescue swimmers
NavyTimes.com – Springfield,VA,USA
service to create its rescue swimmer program — the sinking of a cargo ship off Virginia whose crew Coast Guard rescuers were powerless to help.

Sea unions seek war bonus after Nigeria attacks
Reuters South Africa – Johannesburg,South Africa
By Stefano Ambrogi LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Seafarers‘ unions are urging shipping firms to grant crews emergency rights such as war-risk bonuses for 

Greece wants sunken cruise ship owners to pay for cleanup
AFP –
LHC has blamed the accident on a mistake in local nautical charts. Presenting its own hydrographic survey, the company said that the reef which the ship 

Norwegian seafarers not welcome on US land
Aftenposten – Oslo,Norway
Thanks to ever-strengthening anti-terror laws, Norwegian seafarers are finding themselves stranded on their ships while they are in US ports. 


Maritime Safety News Today – 4th February 2008

February 4, 2008

2 dead in tug boat sinking
Globe and Mail – Canada
The coast guard dispatched a Cormorant helicopter, a Hercules aircraft, and two vessels to the scene, but spokesman Christopher Fitzgerald says things
 Dubai ship sinks off Manama
Khaleej Times – Dubai,United Arab Emirates
Strong winds that hit the Gulf late on Thursday night were said to be the cause of the ship’s sinking. However, 17 Indian crew members were reportedly
 Crew airlifted to safety from stricken Irish Sea ferry
AFP –
The rescue operation, run by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Royal Air Force and Royal National Lifeboat Institution, involved three helicopters
 Stricken ferry runs aground
The Press Association –
the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said. A total of 14 people were airlifted to safety from the Riverdance, a roll-on roll-off vessel,
 Newfoundland mayor one of two dead in sinking
National Post – Toronto,Ontario,Canada
The bodies were brought to St. John’s by the coast guard vessel for autopsies Friday morning. The deaths are the first marine fatalities in Newfoundland ..
Boat captain in clear after crash into bridge
ic SouthLondon.co.uk – United Kingdom
Mr Watson said: “He failed to exercise due care and attention and as a result his vessel went off course and crashed into the bridge.
 Salvage studies on stricken boat
BBC News – UK
The MCA said pollution as a result of the vessel’s grounding on Hirta was not considered to be a serious concern. St Kilda, a group of islands lying 44
 THE LOG EXCLUSIVE: Grounded 82-footer in Bizarre Accident at Cat
The Log Newspaper – Irvine,CA,USA
Another moored vessel in Cat Harbor was thought to have sustained minor damage in a collision with Intrepid as the 82-footer headed for the rocks.
How one clumsy ship cut off the web for 75 million people
Guardian Unlimited – UK
“It will depend on how bad the damage is, but they’ll find the sections in question and bring them up onto a ship for repair before sinking them again,”


The Case Of The Unfamiliar Mariner Part Two

January 30, 2008

Part 2 of The Case Of The Unfamiliar Mariner, the first episode in our second series of Maritime Accident Casebooks is now on line here.

We have also done a small re-edit of Part 1.


Maritime Safety News Today – 30th January 2008

January 30, 2008
Language Barrier Caused Coast Guard To Underestimate SF Bay Oil Spill
AHN – USA
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…

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