Unattended navigation controls led to tugboat collision near Nanaimo, report finds

An investigation into the collision of two tugboats near Nanaimo, B.C. found that the master of one vessel left navigational controls unattended.

Six to eight seconds was all it took for the two vessels to collide, sinking one

No one involved was injured in an accident involving two tugboats near Nanaimo, B.C. on May 24, 2016. (Katherine Bickford)

According to a report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, a 2016 collision between two tugboats near Nanaimo, B.C. occurred because navigational controls were left unattended for 6 to 8 seconds.

The collision occurred in the Northumberland Channel on May 24, 2016, leading to the sinking of the Albern and damage to the hull of the C.T. Titan.

No one involved was injured and only minor pollution was reported.

The report said that the Albern, with two people on board, and the C.T. Titan, with a crew of three, departed from a log yard and were bound for Nanaimo Harbour for a crew change. The C.T. Titan was on a parallel course with the Albern and overtaking it.

While the vessel was overtaking the Albern at full speed, the master of the C.T. Titan left the flying bridge to navigate from the wheelhouse, briefly leaving the navigational controls unattended.

During this time, the C.T. Titan veered to port, likely due to its misaligned rudders, and caused the collision that sunk the Albern.

The Albern's two crew members were trapped underwater as the vessel capsized, but managed to escape before it sank and were eventually rescued by the crew of the C.T. Titan.

The investigation also found that unsafe work practices, a lack of company safety management processes, and insufficient regulatory inspections led to the accident.