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Marine Log

Canadian TSB Marine Investigation simulation video of Queen of the North's striking of Gil Island

March 12, 2008

Canadian TSB issues final report on Queen of North Sinking

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released its final report (M06W0052) into the sinking of the BC Ferries Queen of the North, which occurred on March 22, 2006 at Gil Island, Wright Sound, British Columbia.

In addition to the final report itself, extensive information on the Queen of the North investigation is available here.

At 08:00 p.m. on March 21, 2006, the passenger and vehicle ferry Queen of the North departed Prince Rupert, British Columbia, for Port Hardy, British Columbia. On board were 59 passengers and 42 crew members. After entering Wright Sound from Grenville Channel, the vessel struck the northeast side of Gil Island at 12:21 a.m. on March 22.

The vessel sustained extensive damage to its hull, lost its propulsion, and drifted for 1 hour and 17 minutes before it sank in 430 m of water. Passengers and crew abandoned the vessel before it sank. Two passengers were unaccounted for after the abandonment and have since been declared dead.

"Essentially, the system failed that night. Sound watchkeeping practices were not followed and the bridge watch lacked a third certified person," said Wendy Tadros, Chair of the TSB. "The recommendations we are making today go beyond the cause of this sinking to ensure that Canadians will always reach port safely. Passengers are the focus of our first two recommendations. In an emergency, all passengers must be accounted for and evacuated to safety. Our third recommendation calls for voyage data recorders on all of Canada's large vessels," she added.

Recommendation M08-01

That the Department of Transport, in conjunction with the Canadian Ferry Operators Association and the Canadian Coast Guard, develop, through a risk-based approach, a framework that ferry operators can use to develop effective passenger accounting for each vessel and route.

Recommendation M08-02

That the Department of Transport establish criteria, including the requirement for realistic exercises, against which operators of passenger vessels can evaluate the preparedness of their crews to effectively manage passengers during an emergency.

Recommendation M08-03

That the Department of Transport extend the requirement for the carriage of voyage data recorders/simplified voyage data recorders to large passenger vessels over 500 gross tonnage and all other commercial vessels on an equivalent basis to those trading internationally.


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