Ferry, berth damaged when high winds force vessel off course while departing island

A BC Ferries vessel was damaged when it struck a berth in high winds upon departure from a terminal at Mayne Island, British Columbia.

Queen of Nanaimo was driven off course by 40-knot sustained winds on departure from the Village Bay terminal on Nov. 2, 2013, the agency said. The force pushed the boat into part of the berth structure and a private float, despite the captain ordering anchors deployed to stop the vessel.

Immediately upon departing, the wind caused Queen of Nanaimo to set very quickly to starboard, overcoming the vessel’s ability to maintain its intended course and position. In an effort to recover the situation by maneuvering ahead and to port, the ferry set onto the outer floating leads. The incident caused extensive damage to the structure and the vessel. The ferry also damaged the private float.

The vessel did not ground. Both anchors were deployed and the ship came to anchor in 14 feet of water close along the shoreline of Mayne Island.

A statement from BC Ferries said Queen of Nanaimo was “set out of position” due to high winds while departing the Village Bay terminal at approximately 1045. “The captain and crew followed emergency procedures and deployed both anchors to keep the ship from being set onto the shore,” the statement said.

Queen of Nanaimo is a 395-foot ferry built in 1964. It is powered by two diesel engines generating 6,000 hp to twin screws. There were no reports of any injuries to any of the 22 crewmembers or the two passengers.

BC Ferries said Queen of Nanaimo sustained damage to the starboard aft side during a high-wind incident. The vessel required dry-docking and was removed from service for almost two weeks. Divers conducted a full underwater inspection of the ship and confirmed damage to the starboard side propeller and shafting, as well as a limited portion of the aft hull.

The root cause of the incident was a lack of a full appraisal of the weather conditions and a failure to establish a suitable departure plan, Deborah Marshall, a spokeswoman for BC Ferries, told Professional Mariner in an e-mail.

“Specifically, the crew did not develop options for consideration prior to departure or consider remaining in the dock until wind conditions were more favorable,” Marshall wrote.

Marshall added that bridge team has undergone additional training, including simulation training. The heavy weather matrix will be updated to include more detail on the upper wind limits for the Southern Gulf Islands route.

Mohan Raman, senior marine investigator at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), told Professional Mariner that weather was a contributing factor to the incident. The TSB interviewed the crew and decided not to conduct a full investigation. Transport Canada did not investigate.

Queen of Nanaimo returned to service Nov. 15.

By Professional Mariner Staff