Recurrent blackouts led to ferry striking wharf: TSB

Telegram Staff
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Recurrent electrical blackouts leading to loss of steering caused the Beaumont Hamel ferry to strike the wharf at Portugal Cove in May 2012, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said today as it relesed its investigation report.

The damage to the bow of the ferry Beaumont Hamel is clearly visible after the vessel lost power and rammed the dock in Portugal Cove Wednesday morning. The ship will be out of service indefinitely until the cause of the mishap is known and the damage is repaired. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The ferry service operator — the Department of Transportation and Works  — had a safety management system in place that was not effective at managing the operational risks posed by the recurring blackouts, the TSB said in a news release.

On May 30, 2012, the Beaumont Hamel — which operates on the Bell Island run — experienced an electrical failure resulting in a loss of propulsion and steering while approaching Portugal Cove and struck the wharf, the TSB noted. The vessel sustained damage to the bow visor and caused minor damage to the wharf. One minor injury was reported.

The investigation determined the vessel had a history of electrical failures and on the day of the accident, the blackout caused the vessel to lose propulsion and steering while docking.

The TSB said there had been previous repairs to address the mechanical cause of the blackout, but risks identified after each occurrence were ineffectively dealt with.

Since the accident, the TSB said the department has installed a computerized maintenance management system on the Beaumont Hamel and in the operations office. This system tracks corrective maintenance, sends alerts about planned maintenance and can suggest preventative maintenance. As well, the generator engine fuel pumps were overhauled and calibrated.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences.

Organizations: TSB, Department of Transportation and Works

Geographic location: Bell Island, Portugal Cove

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