Tug grounding leads to new guidelines for BC pilots

The following is the text of a news release from the Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA):

(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — After a review of the recent Nathan E. Stewart tugboat incident in Bella Bella, the Pacific Pilotage Authority is announcing new and interim measures regarding waiver exemptions for ships and ships transporting petroleum cargo products.

Currently, ships over 350 gross tons but under 10,000 gross tons (mostly tugs and barges) are granted waivers if the operator meets certain conditions. Effective immediately, the following additional conditions will be implemented for these vessels:

• Every ship holding a waiver entering a compulsory pilotage area must notify the PPA and provide a list of the waiver holders' names;
• Every ship must have two people on the bridge at all times, one of whom must be the waiver holder;
• Every ship may be subject to random checks by the PPA;
• Every ship may be asked to supply the PPA with log extracts to indicate who was on the bridge at a specific time;
• The master is to be on the bridge during the following transits:

a. First Narrows (Vancouver Harbor)
b. Second Narrows (Vancouver Harbor)
c. Fraser River transit
d. Seymour Narrows
e. Race and Current passage
f. Blackney Pass, Weynton Pass and Broughton Pass
g. Bella Bella
h. Boat Bluff
i. Grenville Channel from Lowe Inlet to Morning Reef

Additional route restrictions (subject to consultations with affected industry stakeholders) will also be put in place for all vessels transporting petroleum products through the compulsory pilotage areas. These restrictions will not apply to vessels delivering fuel to remote locations and communities on the BC coast.

• The northern section of the inside passage is off limits (Grenville Channel, Princess Royal Channel, Finlayson Channel, Seaforth Channel, Lama Pass and Fitzhugh Channel).
• Vessels are to follow a route between the mainland and Haida Gwaii after leaving Gordon Channel at the north east corner of Vancouver Island.
• In adverse weather conditions and after clearance with vessel traffic, the vessel can proceed through Laredo and Principe by entering via Laredo Sound or Browning Entrance.

A five-day implementation period will apply to vessels carrying petroleum who are subject to these additional route restrictions and are already in, or in transit to, these areas.

"The Pacific Pilotage Authority strives to be a world leader in marine pilotage. Part of this goal is learning from and adapting to challenges. The lessons learned from the Nathan E. Stewart incident, and the measures introduced today, will help us increase the safe, reliable and efficient marine pilotage of B.C.'s coastal waters for certain vessels," said Kevin Obermeyer, PPA chief executive officer.

By Professional Mariner Staff