Marine news release 2012

Transportation Safety Board releases report into the December 2010 cable ferry incident in the Ottawa River

Gatineau, Quebec, 7 March 2012 - Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its final investigation report (M10C0092) into the accident that occurred on the Ottawa River, near Rockland, Ontario on 9 December 2010 involving the cable ferry Ecolos.

On the night in question, the Ecolos loaded 3 vehicles and 5 passengers and departed from Thurso, Québec. The operator was the only crew member on board and he noticed a significant increase in the number of ice pans flowing down the river–pans of ice were accumulating against the side of the vessel as it crossed. When the ferry was approximately halfway across, there was a loud bang and the vessel stopped abruptly. The operator left the wheelhouse to investigate the bang, which came from the west drive assembly deckhouse.

“Ice flowing down the Ottawa River got stuck to the upstream side of the hull of the Ecolos cable ferry. When the ferry was about halfway across, there was so much ice accumulation that some of the mechanical parts failed and the cable ferry went adrift,” said Wendy Jolliffe, TSB's Investigator-in-Charge. “One of the axles, a cable and a shore attachment failed but luckily the other cable got caught in the machinery and kept the ferry tethered to the shore at Rockland.”

Ferry operators must foresee the types of accidents that can occur and plan for them. Accidents are unpredictable but the way we react to accidents can be planned and practised. In this occurrence, the ferry operator was trained and the passengers were evacuated safely.

Since the occurrence, the Ecolos ferry operator has repaired the ferry drive system, and modified its design to prevent similar failures in the future. Ferry passengers are reminded that safety is everyone's responsibility, and to be prepared for emergencies.

The report has been sent to all identified cable ferry operators in Canada.


The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca