TSB cites unattended controls in collision that sank tug


The following is the text of a news release from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB):

(RICHMOND, British Columbia) — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada on Thursday released its investigation report (M16P0162) into the May 2016 collision between the tugs Albern and C.T. Titan in the Northumberland Channel near Nanaimo, British Columbia. The collision led to the sinking of the Albern and damage to the hull of the C.T. Titan. There were no injuries; minor pollution was reported.

On May 24, 2016, at approximately 1730 Pacific Daylight Time, Albern, with two people on board, and C.T. Titan, with a crew of three, departed a log yard, bound for Nanaimo Harbor for a crew change. C.T. Titan was on a parallel course with Albern and overtaking it.

The investigation determined that, while the vessel was overtaking Albern at full speed, the master of C.T. Titan left the flying bridge to navigate from the wheelhouse, leaving the navigational controls unattended for six to eight seconds. During this time, C.T. Titan veered to port, likely due to its misaligned rudders, and the master could not transfer propulsion control to the wheelhouse quickly enough to avoid the collision. The force of the impact pushed Albern over, causing it to capsize and then sink. Both crewmembers of Albern were trapped underwater as the vessel capsized, but managed to escape before it sank. They were rescued by the crew of C.T. Titan.

The investigation also found risks related to unsafe work practices, the lack of company safety management processes, and insufficient regulatory inspections. If unsafe work practices, such as the procedure for unattended transfer of control aboard C.T. Titan, are performed repeatedly without adverse consequences, there is a risk that operators will have a reduced perception of the hazards involved with unsafe work practices and will continue to perform them. The TSB also noted that if companies do not have a process for managing vessel safety, including the development of safe operating procedures, there is a risk that deficiencies in vessel equipment and practices may go unidentified or unaddressed.

Following the occurrence, the company, which owned both vessels, had a safety management system gap analysis performed and an action plan prepared based on the International Safety Management Code. As a result, company staff attended situational awareness and bridge resource management training. The company also corrected safety deficiencies related to life raft securement.

Click here to view the complete report.

By Professional Mariner Staff