Concordia lost in squall, crew unaware of risks

HALIFAX — Crew aboard a Nova Scotia-based tall ship that went down off Brazil were not trained in assessing the risk of capsizing in rough weather, says a report on the accident that left 64 people adrift at sea for almost two days before being rescued.

HALIFAX — Crew aboard a Nova Scotia-based tall ship that went down off Brazil were not trained in assessing the risk of capsizing in rough weather, says a report on the accident that left 64 people adrift at sea for almost two days before being rescued.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada issued its findings Thursday on the sinking of the Concordia last February after it ran into heavy seas and stiff winds about 550 kilometres southeast of Rio de Janeiro.

The safety agency found that the crew on the floating school did not take appropriate measures, such as lowering sails, sealing openings or changing course, before the squall hit with winds of up to 56 kilometres per hour. It also stressed that no single factor caused the ship to sink.

The board said water rapidly flooded into the vessel’s hull because doors, windows and vents were left open, leaving 64 young students and staff only 20 minutes to abandon ship before it went down.

“Once knocked down, and with the deckhouse doors open and taking on water, recovery was impossible,” lead investigator Paulo Ekkebus told a news conference in Halifax.

The report found that the second officer, who was at the helm at the time, had a certificate to act as watch officer but he wasn’t required to have more than a basic understanding of stability.

“He lacked an in-depth understanding of the vessel’s stability and its limits in varying wind conditions,” the 75-page report states.

“As a result, the (second officer) was unaware of the vessel’s vulnerability to the approaching squall.”

Crew and students from Class Afloat were forced to scramble onto the deck, throw on immersion suits and climb into life-rafts as the vessel tipped sharply and water poured in through openings on one side of the 57.5-metre long ship.

The president of the company, based in Lunenburg, N.S., disputed the board’s claim that the ship encountered only squalls rather than a rare weather phenomenon that could have produced an intense blast of downward air.

Terry Davies said an American meteorologist found the Concordia was sunk by a microburst that was reportedly in excess of 120 kilometres per hour.

Davies said the second officer likely didn’t have a chance to prepare since the weather event came on suddenly and without warning.

“It’s clear in retrospect that he didn’t appreciate all of the conditions that existed,” he said from Montreal. “And it’s clear from the data we have that he could neither have seen them or anticipated them or run away from them.”

The board said there was no evidence of a microburst.

It recommended that Canadian sail training vessels require watchkeepers to be trained in the use of comprehensive stability guidance on board.

And it called on Transport Canada to lead other countries in establishing international standards for stability guidance and training.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Maryse Durette said the department will include stability guidance in mandatory training standards being developed, but they won’t be ready for a couple of years.

The report didn’t address the issue of how long it took the Brazilian navy to respond to the unfolding disaster, which left the crew bobbing in life-rafts for up to 41 hours before being rescued.

Those on board included 42 Canadian high school and university students. Others were from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Europe and the West Indies.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo State representatives gather at the Capitol, in Phoenix. Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a law barring any instruction on HIV or AIDS that that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," they are close to enacting a broad remake of the state's sex education laws with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. (AP Photo/Matt York,File)
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

People cheer after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Tears and relief sweep intersection where George Floyd died

Tears and relief sweep intersection where George Floyd died

This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office shows Ruben Flores, 80, who was arrested in connection to the murder of college student Kristin Smart at his Arroyo Grande home on Tuesday, April 12, 2021. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said the arrest warrants for Ruben Flores and his son Paul Flores were issued after a search of the elder Flores' home last month using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. He said evidence was found linked to the killing of Smart but they had not yet located her body. (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Document: Kristin Smart once buried in suspect’s backyard

Document: Kristin Smart once buried in suspect’s backyard

In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listen to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read instructions to the jury before closing arguments, Monday, April 19, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death

Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death

This undated image provided by Matthew Pottage shows drought-tolerant succulents in a window box in London. (Matthew Pottage via AP)
Going beyond the traditional window-box garden

Going beyond the traditional window-box garden

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. Female service members and veterans are blasting the way Canada's military police investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the ranks.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Female service members blast military police over sexual misconduct investigations

Female service members blast military police over sexual misconduct investigations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined virtually by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as they talk online to a group of front-line pharmacists from across the country to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID‑19, from the Prime Ministers office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Freeland says Liberals open to provincial child care demands, draws line around fees

Freeland says Liberals open to provincial child care demands, draws line around fees

Most Read