TSB Canada Release Ferry Accident Report
The BC ferry 'Coastal Inspiration' struck the berth in late 2011, causing extensive damage to the vessel and the ferry terminal.
On 20 December 2011, at approximately 1450 Pacific Standard Time, the bow propulsion pitch control on the Coastal Inspiration failed to respond while the vessel was approaching the Duke Point ferry terminal in Nanaimo, British Columbia. As a result, the vessel struck the berth at an approximate speed of 5 knots. There was extensive damage to the vessel and ferry terminal, and several passengers and crew sustained minor injuries.
Findings as to causes and contributing factors
1. The bow propeller was engaged but not tested as required prior to arrival, which precluded the bridge team from realizing that the pitch control was not functioning.
2. The bow propeller pitch control was used once the vessel was at the abort position, in close proximity to the berth, limiting the time for the bridge team to react when it did not respond.
3. An isolating amplifier in the propulsion switchboard malfunctioned, causing the overload protection system to activate. This prevented the electronic signal from the pitch control handle from adjusting the pitch on the bow propeller.
4. The bridge team did not switch from normal to emergency mode. As the mode was not set to Emergency, the master's attempts to engage the PITCH AHEAD and PITCH ASTERN push buttons were ineffective at regaining control of the pitch.
5. Without the braking effect of the bow propeller, and with the astern propeller providing thrust ahead, the vessel struck the berth at a speed of approximately 5 knots.
Summary of action taken:
On 11 April 2012, the TSB sent a Marine Safety Information letter (MSI 04/12) to British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (BCFS), copied to Transport Canada Marine Safety, advising them that the vessel's speed of advance was a significant factor in the striking.
On 23 May 2012, BCFS responded to MSI 04/12 by stating that it had implemented new standard operating procedures that highlighted all critical decision points during the passage, and that these pre-determined points for reducing speed had been standardized for each route that the vessel sailed. Safety checks were being provided at these points as the vessel approached the conclusion of the voyage. To further mitigate the risks associated with the vessel berthing phase, a series of contingency plans and drills had also been developed and implemented.