The trial of a crewman charged in the fatal sinking of a ferry off the B.C. coast has heard the vessel was in the best condition of its life before it went down seven years ago.

Navigating officer Karl Lilgert is charged with criminal negligence causing death after two passengers were presumed drowned when the Queen of the North sank in March 2006. Lilgert has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Ross Bowen, an experienced mariner who has worked with BC Ferries for more than 30 years, was on the Queen of the North weeks earlier after it had undergone five months of upgrades.

That work included an improved radar system.

Bowen says the ship was inspected by Transport Canada officials before returning to service roughly three weeks before the sinking, and it was found to be seaworthy.

Bowen helped sail the ship from the Vancouver area back to the start of its route in Port Hardy, on Vancouver Island, and he says the ship was probably in the best condition it had ever been in.