News release

Lack of adherence to procedures and familiarity with propulsion system caused December 2011 striking

Gatineau, Quebec, 12 March 2013 — Today, the Transportation Safety Board released its investigation report (M11W0211) into the December 2011 accident in which British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.'s (BCFS) Costal Inspiration struck the berth at Duke Point, British Columbia. It found a number of contributing factors, including a lack of adherence to procedures and familiarity with the operation of the propulsion system by the bridge team in an emergency. Crew and passengers suffered minor injuries in the accident, and there was extensive damage to both the vessel and the terminal.

On 20 December 2011, the vessel left Tsawwassen on time at 12:45 for its fourth trip of the day, with 346 passengers, 129 vehicles, and a crew of 31 on board. At 14:50, the vessel struck the berth at a speed of approximately 5 knots. Seven passengers and 9 crew members sustained minor injuries as a result of the hard landing and were treated on board. The bow door, the starboard side shell, and the rubbing plate of the Costal Inspiration were damaged, putting it out of service for 23 days. The terminal sustained damage to the port and starboard berth walls, to pilings and to various electrical fittings, and was out of service for 122 days.

On 11 April 2012, the TSB issued a Marine Safety Information letter (MSI 04/12) to BCFS advising them that the speed of advance was a significant factor in the striking.

The TSB investigation found that procedures for testing the propulsion control equipment before berthing were not followed. This meant that a malfunction in the controls went undetected until too late. The investigation also found that the vessel's bridge crew was unfamiliar with the operation of this control in an emergency.

Since the accident, BCFS has made a number of changes to its propulsion control system to provide a warning to bridge crews when the system malfunctions. As well, BCFS has improved a number of procedures and developed a schedule of critical failure response drills to ensure that contingency plans are exercised by all key personnel. It has also incorporated verification of responses to critical-system failures into mandatory familiarization training, which is verified in periodic drills.

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