Human error blamed for Queen of the North sinking
Last Updated: Monday, March 26, 2007 | 2:16 PM PT
The BC Ferries report on the sinking of the Queen of the North blames human error for the accident, which claimed two lives when the ferry went down along B.C.'s North Coast in March 2006.
The report singles out three crew members in charge of navigation and steering on the night of the sinking, saying they failed to make a required course change at Sainty Point.
The Queen of the North sank in more than 400 metres of water after hitting the rocks of Gil Island.
(Transportation Safety Board)
The ferry then proceeded straight on an incorrect course for four nautical miles over 14 minutes until it ran into the rocks of Gil Island.
The person at the wheel that night was the ship's quartermaster, a deckhand considered a "rating under training." The two people in charge of navigation were the second and fourth officers.
The internal report says the ship's black box shows the fourth officer failed to alter course, or at the very least, verify such a change in course was made.
It also says the two people on the bridge that night, the fourth officer and the deckhand, lost situational awareness sometime after Sainty Point. And it says they also failed to appreciate the vessel's impending peril prior to the grounding on Gil Island.
It states that the person at the wheel only became aware of trouble when trees were sighted on an island directly ahead.
At about the same time, the fourth officer shouted an order to disengage the ship's autopilot and alter course. But the person at the wheel apparently didn't know how to turn off the autopilot.
The ship hit ground and reports came in that the engine room was flooding.
The captain was off duty and asleep at the time. When he made it to the bridge, he said he was told by the fourth officer, "I'm sorry, I was trying to go around a fishing vessel."
Nothing wrong with ship
To back up its finding of human error, the report points out there was little wrong with the ship or its equipment that night; that there were no propulsion, mechanical or control defects on the ferry that night.
It says there is no evidence that the autopilot or steering system malfunctioned, and that all electrical navigational equipment in the wheelhouse was operating within normal limits.
The evidence obtained from the black box clearly demonstrates, according to the report, that the Queen of the North changed neither course nor speed during the final 14 minutes.
The report also points out the two officers did not co-operate with the internal investigation.
Crew didn't search all cabins
The crew of the sinking ferry banged on the doors of all 55 passenger cabins, but only searched 53 of them, according to the report.
Ninety-nine of the 101 passengers and crew aboard the ferry managed to escape to safety. However, two passengers, Gerald Foisy, 46, and Shirley Rosette, 42, of 100 Mile House, B.C., are still missing and presumed dead.
Monday's internal report is not the final word on the tragedy. The National Transportation Safety Board still has to release its report on the sinking, which took place on March 22, 2006.
Last May, the board sent a letter to BC Ferries president David Hahn also talking about human error.
The TSB said some of the crew may not have received proper training on the ship's new steering and navigational equipment.
Latest British Columbia News Headlines
- BMO building re-opens after suspicious package scare
- A suspicious package that triggered a partial evacuation at the Bank of Montreal building on West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver is not dangerous, emergency officials say. more »
- Skagit bridge to reopen Wednesday with temporary span
- The Skagit River bridge on I-5 will open on Wednesday with a temporary span replacing the collapsed section, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced on Tuesday. more »
- Vancouver airport CEO takes aim at cross-border travellers
- The new CEO of the Vancouver International Airport says his biggest challenge is to stem the flow of B.C. travellers heading across the border for cheaper flights. more »
- Police pepper-sprayed Abbotsford camp, says homeless woman
- A homeless woman in Abbotsford, B.C. has come forward to say she is behind allegations local police slashed and pepper-sprayed tents at a homeless camp. more »
Top News Headlines
- Senators call for 'zero tolerance' on harassment in RCMP
- The RCMP should amend its code of conduct to explicitly define and prohibit harassment, a Senate committee is recommending in a newly tabled report. more »
- Are e-cigarettes safe to puff?
- As electronic or e-cigarettes grow in popularity, some health advocates want them to be regulated. more »
- Most groups don't want return of Trudeau speaking fees
- Most of the 17 charitable and other organizations that have paid speaking fees to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during his time as an MP say they aren't interested in having their fees returned, despite Trudeau's offer on the weekend to reimburse any organization unhappy with his services. more »
- Google asks secret court to lift gag on surveillance
- Google is asking the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to lift its long-standing gag order on how often the company is asked to turn over data about its customers to the U.S. government. more »
- Parents of son 'brutally beaten' playing hockey want charges
- Police slashed homeless tents, say advocates in Abbotsford, B.C.
- The class photo that made a father cry
- Failed condo pre-sale deal costs Vancouver buyer $750K
- Teen killed at mill near Vernon identified
- Prison guard files murder trauma claim
- Pedestrian injured in parking spot row
- Death of boy in B.C. cancer ride 'heartbreaking'
- Wolf seen running along mountain highway again