Helmsman Mixed Port With Starboard & Ferry Grounded

Friday, September 13, 2013
MV Blue Puttees: Image courtesy of the owners

The owners, Marine Atlantic, give an update on the grounding of the ferry MV Blue Puttees in Port aux Basques harbour.

Immediately following the incident, Marine Atlantic initiated an internal investigation to determine the cause and work towards preventing a similar incident in the future. Two external agencies, namely the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) and RCMP, also initiated investigations.

It has been concluded that human error was the cause of the incident. In recent days, Marine Atlantic received two letters from the TSB outlining the cause as well as recommendations for consideration. Marine Atlantic welcomes the findings and is now in the process of reviewing these recommendations to determine next steps.

The cause of the incident, as outlined by the TSB, is outlined below:

“On 31 July 2013, the passenger vessel Blue Puttees departed Port aux Basques Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, with 398 passengers and 91 crew on board and ran aground a minute and a half later. The vessel, which had been bound for Sydney, Nova Scotia, sustained damage to the hull in way of the bulbous bow, and ballast tank No. 1 was holed. There were no injuries or pollution. The vessel was refloated during the next high tide and returned to the ferry dock for further assessment.”

Information obtained by TSB indicated that:

  • When the Blue Puttees was departing its berth, the master ordered 10 ̊ port
  • rudder and applied 50% ahead propeller pitch;
  • The quartermaster incorrectly applied 10 ̊ starboard rudder
  • After approximately 42 seconds, the master observed that the vessel heading line
  • on the centre starboard radar was altering to starboard and realized that the
  • rudder order had been applied the wrong way; and,
  • The master applied full astern pitch, but the vessel’s speed had already reached
  • 9.6 knots, and the vessel grounded before it could be stopped.”

The recommendations suggest Marine Atlantic conduct a review of Bridge Resource Management, as well as the vessel speeds Marine Atlantic uses when entering and leaving port.

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