A six-to-eight second absence from the controls of a tug boat caused the sinking of another tug near Nanaimo, the Transportation Safety Board said in a report released Thursday.
According to the safety board report, on May 24, 2016, while the C.T. Titan was overtaking the Albern at full speed, the master of the C.T. Titan left the upper bridge to navigate from the wheelhouse.
The navigational controls were unattended for six to eight seconds. By the time the Titan’s master had reached the controls, the boat had veered toward the Albern.
The Titan’s master attempted to transfer propulsion control to the wheelhouse to avoid the collision but was unable to do so in time. The 15-metre tug then struck the nine-metre Albern.
The Albern capsized and sank. Two of the crew members were trapped underwater as the vessel capsized, but they managed to escape before the tug sank. They were rescued by the crew of the C.T. Titan.
The report found the Titan veered to port “most likely” because of misaligned rudders and that the master of the C.T. Titan couldn’t gain control in enough time to prevent the crash.
In the report, the board also said the C.T. Titan’s safety manual had only one safe operating procedure (ship berthing) and there were no documented safe operating procedures for other common aspects of the vessel’s operations, such as the transfer of propulsion control and autopilot/jog steering options.
“If unsafe work practices are performed repeatedly by operators, and without operators experiencing any adverse consequences, then there is a risk that operators will have a reduced perception about the hazards involved in that practice and will continue to perform it,” the report concluded.
Jones Marine Group is the owner of both tugs. The company hired a consulting firm to conduct a safety management analysis. The company also sent its masters and deckhands to attend a training course on safe working practices.