Submersible Retrieves Data, Takes Video from Sunken Ferry

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
An underwater video released Tuesday by B.C.'s Transportation Safety Board shows images from inside the sunken Queen of the North ferry during a dive by a remote-controlled submersible last month. The video shows the submersible's manipulator arms clearing the ferry deck of debris, breaking a bridge window to gain access and taking images of the controls.

It also shows the submersible retrieving bridge computerized electronic systems that could shed light on what led to the fatal accident.

The images from inside the vessel, which came to rest on the ocean floor a little over 1,400 feet were taken during a two-day dive by a submersible called an ROPOS (remotely operated platform for ocean science) operated by a Vancouver Island company, the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility. The submersible retrieved the hard drive from the electronic chart system. Even though the hard drive was in salt water, data was downloaded from it. Also retrieved were the automated identification system unit, the global positioning system receiver and the digital selective calling radio. Analysis of the data retrieved from these components is continuing.

The RCMP also used the submersible to check for any sign of the two missing people none was found and BC Ferries used the submersible to look for environmental damage caused by the sinking, he said. If the board finds a safety deficiency at any time during the investigation, it will issue a safety communication so that the deficiency can be quickly addressed.

It was pointed out that the Queen of the North was not equipped with a voyage data recorder, which would substantially benefit a safety investigation because it records all the vessel's operations, including speed, ship sensors and voice recorders. BC Ferries has said that all new vessels will be fitted with VDRs and that existing vessels will be retrofitted with simplified voyage data recorders.

Earlier this month, David Hahn, president of BC Ferries, announced that former B.C. auditor general George Morfitt has been appointed to do an independent review of the corporation's safety policies, procedures and practices. The review, expected by December, was prompted by a series of accidents, Hahn said. Vancouver Sun

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