Improper Securement Led to Rescue Boat Fall from British Columbia Ferry – TSB of Canada

Queen of Cumberland
Image courtesy Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The incorrect securement of a rescue boat led to its uncontrolled fall from the passenger ferry Queen of Cumberland during a drill in Swartz Bay, British Columbia in 2018 resulting in two injuries, a Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation into the incident has determined. 

On April 18, 2018, the crew members on the Queen of Cumberland, operated by BC Ferries Services Inc., were using the davit to raise the vessel’s rescue boat out of the water during a drill, when the hoist cable broke. The rescue boat, with two crew members inside, fell approximately 11 meters to the water resulting in both crew members being injured, including one seriously. The rescue boat was also damaged in the fall. 

“The investigation found that the rescue boat painter (rope) was not secured with sufficient working length, thus exerting a force on the rescue boat and cable as it was being raised. The resulting side load caused the hoist cable to get pinched and break, resulting in the boat falling into the water along with the two crew members,” the Transportation Safety Board said in a statement. 

The Queen of Cumberland underwent a mid-life upgrade in 2016, during which certain vessel equipment, including the rescue boat davit, was changed. However, the investigation found that corresponding updates to operation and maintenance procedures were not made and that, although BC Ferries identified some of the missing updates, others went unidentified and unresolved.

“If changes in equipment aboard ships are not managed effectively and necessary updates to maintenance systems and schedules are not made, there is a risk that maintenance will be inadequate or overlooked,” TSB of Canada said. “Additionally, if changes to operational procedures and training are not made, the crew may not be proficient in the use of the equipment. Both of these factors increase the risk of equipment failures, accidents, or injuries.”

Following the incident, BC Ferries restricted personnel from being on board the rescue boats while they are being raised or lowered, except during emergencies. The company has also provided updated training on the operations and limitations of rescue boat davits, and updated its maintenance procedures.

You can find the full investigation report on the Transportation Safety Board of Canada website.