bc-generic-queen-of-the-north-TSB

The Queen of the North sank March 22, 2006, near Gil Island off B.C.'s coast. This image was taken by a submersible robot. ((Transportation Safety Board))

The captain of the ill-fated Queen of the North ferry is getting his job back, two years after the vessel he commanded sank off the northern coast of B.C., killing two people.

Capt. Colin Henthorne was not on the bridge when the ferry failed to make a crucial turn and struck Gil Island, rupturing the hull, causing the ferry to sink with the loss of two passengers' lives on March 22, 2006.

WorkSafeBC, the provincial health and safety agency, has ruled that Henthorne must be back on the job by May 25, BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said Tuesday.

"WorkSafeBC has issued an order that BC Ferries must reinstate the captain for the Queen of the North. BC Ferries does respect the decision of WorkSafeBC and we will be reinstating that individual shortly," said Marshall.

Marshall said privacy concerns prohibit her from giving more details about the reinstatement.

A BC Ferries report on the sinking, issued in March 2007, blamed human error for the accident and singled out three other crew members in charge of navigation and steering at the time for failing to make a required course change.

The captain was off duty and asleep at the time. When he reached the bridge, he previously testified he was told by the fourth officer, "I'm sorry, I was trying to go around a fishing vessel."

The replacement for the sunken Queen of the North, the Northern Expedition, recently arrived from the shipyard in Germany where it was built. It is expected to start regular service between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert in May.