Human error cause of Marine Atlantic ferry grounding

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One employee disciplined in connection with incident

Marine Atlantic says human error was the cause of the July 31 incident in which the MV Blue Puttees ran aground in Port aux Basques harbour causing damage to the ship’s hull and ballast tank No. 1.

The Blue Puttees ran aground July 31 in Port aux Basques harbour. — TC Media file photo

A news release notes that, at this point in time, one individual has been disciplined in relation to the incident.

Immediately following the incident, Marine Atlantic initiated an internal investigation. Two external agencies, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) and RCMP, also initiated investigations.

Two letters have been received from the TSB outlining the cause, as well as recommendations for consideration.

The cause of the incident, as outlined by the TSB, is:

“On 31 July 2013, the passenger vessel Blue Puttees departed Port aux Basques Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, with 398 passengers and 91 crew on board and ran aground a minute and a half later. The vessel, which had been bound for Sydney, Nova Scotia, sustained damage to the hull in way of the bulbous bow, and ballast tank No. 1 was holed. There were no injuries or pollution. The vessel was refloated during the next high tide and returned to the ferry dock for further assessment.”

Information obtained by TSB indicated that:

• When the Blue Puttees was departing its berth, the master ordered 10 degree port rudder and applied 50 per cent ahead propeller pitch;

• The quartermaster incorrectly applied 10 degree starboard rudder;

• After approximately 42 seconds, the master observed that the vessel heading line on the centre starboard radar was altering to starboard and realized that the rudder order had been applied the wrong way;

• The master applied full astern pitch, but the vessel’s speed had already reached 9.6 knots, and the vessel grounded before it could be stopped.

Recommendations suggested include that Marine Atlantic conduct a review of Bridge Resource Management, as well as the vessel speeds Marine Atlantic uses when entering and leaving port.

The release notes Marine Atlantic has already started reviewing the information with each of the captains and is making updates and improvements that may be required.

The National Research Council — a highly skilled independent research organization based in St. John’s — has been asked to assist in completing the necessary research regarding the speed at which to enter and exit port in each of our harbours.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Transportation Safety Board, RCMP National Research Council

Geographic location: Port aux Basques Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, Sydney Nova Scotia

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  • cal brake
    September 14, 2013 - 12:03

    I travel this route every year and as far as I can see the service is getting worst and worse .This year they had my res. wrong I lost my cabin and was lucky to get on the boat at all come on lab. highway get completed so I don't have to deal with this