RICHMOND, B.C. – The Transportation Safety Board says a six-to-eight-second absence from the controls of a tug boat caused the sinking of another tug off the east coast of Vancouver Island.
A safety board report says the captain of the C.T. Titan left the tug going while he moved from the upper bridge to the wheelhouse and by the time he reached the controls, the boat had veered towards the vessel Albern.
The Titan’s master attempted to transfer propulsion control to the wheelhouse, but the report says he couldn’t do so in time and the 15-metre tug rammed the much smaller vessel in May 2016.
The nine-metre Albern capsized and sank in the waters near Nanaimo, temporarily trapping its two crew members under the water until they could escape and swim to the surface.
The report concludes the Titan veered to port because of misaligned rudders putting it on a collision course with the other tug and that the master couldn’t gain control in time to prevent the crash.
The board says the Titan’s safety manual had no documented safe operating procedures for transferring of propulsion control and auto pilot operations even though that was done several times a day.
“If unsafe work practices are preformed repeatedly by operators, and without operators experiencing any adverse consequences, then there is a risk that operators will have a reduced perception of the hazards involved in that practice and will continue to perform it,” the report issued Thursday concluded.
Both tugs are owned by Jones Marine Group, which hired a consulting firm to conduct a safety management analysis. Its masters and deckhands have attended a training course on safe working practices.