Nova Scotia

Investigators say large number of marine incidents in Atlantic Canada causing backlog

The investigation is still ongoing into a fishing accident that caused two deaths near Port Hood, N.S., more than a year ago, and the Transportation Safety Board says that's because of the high number of incidents it's dealing with in the Atlantic region.

Transportation Safety Board says it has 11 ongoing marine investigations in the Atlantic region

The Ocean Star II fished out of Murphy's Pond Harbour in Port Hood. The accident happened about 1.5 kilometres north, along the shore of western Cape Breton Island. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The Transportation Safety Board says it's dealing with a large number of marine incidents in Atlantic Canada and that's slowing down the investigation process.

For example, an investigation is still ongoing into a fishing accident that caused two deaths near Port Hood, N.S., more than a year ago.

Hugh Watts and Glen MacDonald died after the Ocean Star II capsized about 100 metres offshore in May 2018.

The TSB launched what's known as a Class 4 investigation, which the agency said is a kind of probe that is limited in scope and usually completed within 200 days.

It's been more than 400 days since the investigation started.

'A high number of occurrences'

"We have had a high number of occurrences in [2017-2018], which the investigators have been involved in, and that certainly has had an impact on the timeline for report delivery in all of our investigations," said Shannon Pittman, a senior regional investigator with the TSB.

The board says there are currently 11 ongoing marine investigations in the Atlantic region being done out of the Dartmouth, N.S., office.

One is a Class 5 summary, four are Class 4 investigations, five are Class 3 and one is Class 2.

New type of investigation

The agency said it's not possible to put those numbers in context because Class 4 was only added to the list of investigation types on May 1, 2018, less than two weeks before the Ocean Star II accident.

Pittman said the number of investigations is higher than usual and investigators are working through them as quickly as possible.

He said the investigation into the Ocean Star II capsizing will not assign blame, but it will lay out what happened and may make safety recommendations to try to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

Pittman said it's not known when the Port Hood report will be done.

Results 'important'

"The occurrence and the safety issues that we are looking at in this one are certainly important and we want to communicate [them] to the public," he said.

The TSB investigates incidents involving airplanes, trains and watercraft, and posts its reports on the agency's website.

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 33 years. He has spent the last 15 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.