More than 2,200 litres of lubricants, including gear and hydraulic oils, leaked into the Pacific Ocean after the Nathan E. Stewart partially sank near Bella Bella in October 2016 as it was towing an empty barge. Photo from CANADIAN PRESS

Second mate fell asleep on grounded tug off Vancouver Island: TSB report

VANCOUVER — The Transportation Safety Board has called for more training on fatigue in the marine industry after finding a crew member fell asleep and missed a planned course change before a tug boat ran aground off British Columbia’s coast.

About 107,000 litres of diesel and more than 2,200 litres of lubricants, including gear and hydraulic oils, leaked into the Pacific Ocean after the Nathan E. Stewart partially sank near Bella Bella in October 2016 as it was towing an empty barge.

Board chair Kathy Fox said the second mate had been working a schedule of six hours on, six hours off for more than two days, which didn’t allow for sufficient rest.

“It’s hard enough to work a six-on, six-off shift for days on end without getting a good night’s sleep,” she said Thursday after the board issued its report. “It’s harder still to do it without the means to recognize and combat the fatigue that this schedule inevitably generates.”

Alarms meant to alert crew members when a vessel goes off course weren’t switched on when the 30-metre tug ran aground, Fox said, adding regulations do not require them to be activated.

“They were sometimes turned off just to avoid what’s perceived to be nuisance alarms, but in this case could have provided warning to the watchkeeper,” she said.

The report recommends watchkeepers be trained to help identify and prevent the risks of fatigue and that all vessel owners have fatigue-management plans tailored to individual operators.

Fatigue has been identified by the board as a “casual or contributory factor” in a number of other marine accidents and Fox said this case was compelling enough to prompt a call for change.

“We think that just regulating time off isn’t in and of itself enough. It’s got to be part of a global strategy that includes education, scheduling principles and alertness strategies and other defences,” she said.

The second mate was alone on the bridge at night and did not have training that would exempt the vessel from needing a marine pilot, both of which are contrary to Canadian regulations, the report says.

Another investigation into the possible contraventions is underway, Fox said.

“Transport Canada is the safety regulator so it’s their responsibility to look at whether there was non-compliance and then what enforcement action may need to be taken after the fact.”

The board also said spill response and recovery efforts following the fuel leak were within prescribed time standards, but it wasn’t always clear who had authority over the operation.

“There was definitely a bit of confusion in the beginning,” said Glenn Budden, the board investigator in charge of the case.

The primary responders got the response organized as quickly as possible and the confusion didn’t cause a delay, but it did create frustration, he said.

The report recommends various agencies come together after a spill response to debrief and share lessons learned.

Chief Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk First Nation said she’s disappointed the report’s recommendations around spill response weren’t stronger. The fuel spill forced the closure of prime seafood harvesting and fishing areas, which continues to have devastating social, cultural and economic impacts on the community, she said.

“Our community has continued to pay the price. And we certainly, moving forward, would like to see more collaboration around providing environmental protection that should be here. We’re still left with that gap.”

Slett said the report should also have included more details about safety management procedures on the boat.

In November, the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States released a report saying Houston-based Kirby Offshore Marine had ineffectively implemented safety management procedures, which contributed to the accident involving its tug.

It also said there was a lack of documentation on safety rounds and no evidence that safety management rules were implemented on board the Nathan E. Stewart.

Kirby issued a statement Thursday saying it regrets the incident but “took immediate steps to limit the potential for harm arising from it.” It says procedures, training, auditing and equipment have since been modified to limit the risk of future accidents.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Update: Red Deer’s Ryan Vandervlis remains in critical condition in hospital after firepit explosion

WHL and families issue a statement on Friday night incident that injured three Lethbridge Hurricanes

AHS recognizes National Indigenous Peoples Week

Smudge to be held at Red Deer hospital

“Nothing can take away the horror and the anguish,” says Amanda Lindhout’s mother

Lorinda Stewart reacts to 15-year jail sentence for daughter’s kidnapper

Amanda Lindhout kidnapper sentenced to 15 years in prison

OTTAWA — A Somalian man found guilty in the kidnapping of Amanda… Continue reading

Police suspect fire at mosque in Alberta town was deliberately set

EDSON, Alta. — RCMP in Alberta say they’re investigating an arson at… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Alberta High School Soccer League champs crowned

Lindsay Thurber girls’ team and Notre Dame boys’ team won Saturday at Edgar Park Field in Red Deer

Tears flow as gay military veterans tell judge about ruined careers, lives

OTTAWA — Gay military veterans are telling a federal judge they were… Continue reading

Shotgun wounds show homeowner shot Indigenous man at close range, court told

HAMILTON — Either one of two shotgun blasts that hit an Indigenous… Continue reading

When it comes to tipping for service, millennials are cheapest

U.S. millennials are quick to whip out their wallets for pricey avocado… Continue reading

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual… Continue reading

Trudeau government to kick off talks towards national strategy on big data

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government will take fresh steps on Tuesday towards… Continue reading

Ethics watchdog says Bill Morneau didn’t break law with pension bill

OTTAWA — The federal ethics watchdog has closed the last in a… Continue reading

Private jet once owned by Elvis Presley for sale – again

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley that… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month