BC coal collision report released


An investigation as to the cause of a serious collision at a terminal in Vancouver that resulted in extensive damages to the facility and loss of cargo has been put down to miscommunication and a lack of safety planning.

On December 7th 2012, the Japanese-owned bulk coal carrier, Cape Apricot collided with a trestle at Westshore Terminals, Roberts Bank, Vancouver.

The collision caused widespread damage, forcing the closure of one of the berths, and the loss of as much as 30 tonnes of coal.

Luckily no injuries were reported.

According to the report the vessel was anchored near Victoria before it set off to berth at Westshore Terminals.

The Cape Apricot then followed required protocol; enlisting the assistance of a local marine pilot working for British Columbia Coastal Pilots (BCCP), prior to entering British Columbia waters, a necessary requirement for all vessels wishing to dock at the terminal.

The ship arrived shortly after midnight and with the assistance of two tugs began docking procedures.

However, it was soon found that the vessels outlined course would result in a collision. By the time the marine pilot had initiated manoeuvres to avoid a crash, it was too late.

The vessel collided with the trestle at 3.5 knots.

The report has put this lack of preparedness down to a lack of communication on the bridge between both the pilot and the ship’s captain, which ultimately resulted in a failure to perceive the oncoming threat.

The report states that “Without effective communication regarding their shared mental model during the approach, the master and the pilot did not identify the developing risk as the manoeuvre progressed and did not take timely corrective action.”

Further blame is placed on both BCCP and the Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA), the federal government agency that oversees the use of pilots in the area, in regards to a lack of safety planning.

Both BCCP and the PPA have been chastised for failing to provide a common protocol detailing measures of what must be done should a collision happen, alongside failing to review previous incidents.

BCCP released the following statement on their website: “BCCP is actively reviewing the report’s findings as part of BCCP’s commitment to continuous improvement and the highest safety standards.”

“BCCP will work collaboratively with the Pacific Pilotage Authority to continually assess and improve where necessary safety practices, while maintaining flexibility for pilots to fulfil their duties and to make decisions based on environmental and marine conditions.”

Since the event, the PPA has developed a protocol to be carried out in the event of a collision.

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