Ferry Crew’s Failure to Test Propeller, Follow Procedures Led to 2011 Crash, TSB Says

On Friday, we discussed the June 2011 barge accident that caused substantial damage to the Queensborough Railway Bridge in British Columbia. While an investigative report from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada said fatigue and inexperience were factors in that incident, Professional Mariner reported that the TSB determined that the bridge team’s lack of adherence to procedures and unfamiliarity with the operation of the propulsion system in an emergency led to a British Columbia ferry docking crash in 2011. The bow propulsion pitch control on the 21,777-ton, 520-foot COASTAL INSPIRATION failed to respond while the vessel was approaching the Duke Point ferry terminal in Nanaimo, British Columbia. According to Canada’s CBC News, 16 people were injured in the ferry accident and BC Ferries had to shut down the terminal for four months because of the damage caused by the collision.

The TSB investigation concluded that some of the causes and contributing factors in the accident included: the bow propeller not being tested as required prior to arrival; an isolating amplifier in the propulsion switchboard malfunctioning, causing the overload protection system to activate and preventing the electronic signal from the pitch control  handle from adjusting the pitch on the bow propeller; and the bridge team not switching from normal to emergency mode. BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall told Professional Mariner that the TSB’s findings were “very similar” to the company’s own investigation that concluded the root cause of the hard landing was an electronic component failure within the propulsion control system.

Failure to maintain equipment and the malfunction of equipment are examples of unseaworthy conditions that can entitle injured seamen or their families to compensation under general maritime law. Latti & Anderson LLP has been helping individuals injured on the water for more than a half-century, and you can use the form on this page to have our Jones Act attorneys review your case or you can contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 to set up a free consultation.

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