Report says total safety breakdown caused Queen of the North to sink

  • Mar. 12, 2008 5:00 p.m.

The Queen of the North sank because of a total safety breakdown, with the bridge crew not following sound navigational practices, according to a report by the Transportation Safety Board released Wednesday. The ferry sank while enroute from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on March 22, 2006, leaving two people presumed drowned. The vessel’s senior officer on the bridge, Karl Lilgert, did not order a crucial course change, which caused the vessel to slam into Gil Island and sink, and quartermaster Karen Bricker did not make any course corrections, because they may have been distracted by a personal conversation they were having, a squall making navigation difficult or they had lost track of a fishing vessel in the area on their radar. The TSB report, two years in the making, found that several navigational principles were not followed, including slowing down when encountering reduced visibility, failing to call a senior officer to the bridge when conditions deteriorated, failing to have an effective lookout, and failing to locate and identify navigation lights. The report does not explain why the crew failed to avoid the island. “The investigation is unable to explain why the fourth officer and quartermaster did not follow basic watchkeeping practices, so as to keep the vessel on course-nor why the fourth officer failed to detect the vessel’s improper course for up to 14 minutes,” the report says. Several islanders were on board the ferry when it sank, including Margaret Condrotte and Ernie and Sandy Thomson of Port Clements and Trevor Caldwell of Sandspit and his family.

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