'Northern Adventure' Wasn't Safe to Sail: Union Inspector
Greek-built, refitted Northern Adventure.
Report alleges many problems, claims certifying ship was 'negligent.'
By Andrew MacLeod
Published: March 11, 2009
A senior B.C. Ferry Services Ltd. worker, since promoted to a management position, ripped the company for putting a new vessel into service before it was ready. He compiled a long list of safety issues and called the federal government inspectors who allowed the ship to sail "negligent."
"What exactly did B.C. Ferries learn from the Queen of the North's sinking?" asked David Badior in an April 2007 president's report for the ships' officers component of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers Union. "Nothing!"
B.C. Ferries bought the Sonia for $50.6 million in 2006, and renamed it the Northern Adventure, to replace the Queen of the North after it hit Gil Island and sank. Two people, Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, remain missing after the March 22, 2006, sinking, and are presumed drowned.
The company reportedly spent $9 million on refits in Greece to get the Greek-built ship ready for the trip to Canada, then a further $9 million at the Victoria Shipyards. Including taxes and the cost of getting the vessel to B.C., the company spent some $100 million.
The ship went into service between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert on March 31, 2007. There were delays of some three hours, but the vessel sailed. A week later there was a 30 hour delay before another sailing.
At the end of April, after using the Northern Adventure for a month, BC Ferries sent the vessel for a 10-day refit at Deas Pacific Marine in Richmond. The company publicly acknowledged "some issues cropped up" but did not go into detail about the safety concerns.
Badior's report offers a glimpse of what was happening behind the scenes.
High level team investigated
"I was personally getting all kinds of phone calls and emails from the Northern region about the state of the training (or total lack thereof), the state of equipment, lack of documentation and the physical state of the vessel itself," he wrote. "I know that other Executive members were being passed similar information."
At a meeting about bringing the Coastal Renaissance into service, he said, representatives of the union and the company focussed on avoiding "another debacle" like what happened with the Northern Adventure.
They agreed to send a "high level team" to sail on the Northern Adventure out of Port Hardy on April 18. The team included two captains, a vice president and "delegations" of managers from three B.C. Ferries divisions. The union sent then president Jackie Miller and five other representatives. Badior and an eighth union representative flew up and met the ship in Prince Rupert.
"My personal experience in the three or so hours I was aboard the vessel can be summed up in one word, stunned," he wrote. "I am stunned that Transport Canada certified the ship to sail.
"I am also stunned at the total lack of preparation that was completed by Vessel Acquistion and New Construction Team prior to the ship being turned over to Operations. I am stunned that anyone in Operations accepted the Northern Adventure in the condition she is in today let alone what it was like aboard a couple of weeks ago."
Vessel problems, crew unprepared
Badior made a "by no means exhaustive" list of 17 things he observed himself, including the following:
* The ARPA, which uses radar to track a vessel's position in relation to other ships or land, was not working
* "Those big beautiful covered lifeboats touted by BC Ferries as such an improvement in passenger safety in their propaganda are literally locked and chained into their cradles and not allowed to be used"
* "There is no low level lighting for evacuation anywhere that I could see on the ship"
* "There are stickers all over the place for fire equipment that is not there"
* The ship had no stand alone general alarm, nor a public address system
* "There is no apparent documentation on anything, no vessel specific manuals, no equipment specific manuals nothing. As an example on the rescue boat davit in plain view for the passengers to see is a felt pen note saying that no one knows what the accumulator pressure is supposed to be so keep it charged at 60 bar and the Nitrogen bottle at 80 bar until they can get documentation"
* "Fire hose lockers on the upper decks are made of fibreglass (good) but the hardware is not stainless steel so the hinges and clasps are all rusted and in very poor repair. Some of the lockers were being held shut with ropes"
There were also worries about ill-prepared crews and unsafe working conditions. Badior noted:
* "The stories of familiarization or lack thereof are numerous and horrifying"
* "Many of the crew members looked exhausted but were still working their darndest to make the ship work. I was told numerous times that the vessel was a lot better yesterday (the 20th) than when they first sailed her three or so weeks ago. All this and the Crew are now working a split shift supposedly to make things safer when in fact they are getting 4.5 to 6 hours of sleep a day if they are lucky"
* "I won't get into the many stories about intimidation by Management"
Badior also wrote "crew members told me" that when Transport Canada came aboard to certify the ship, the federal officials watched BC Ferries crews do their drills. Asked to show an official how to operate a particular piece of life saving equipment, "The crew member responded 'I don't know I have never seen this piece of kit before.'"
Wrote Badior, "TC passed the ship anyway."
He stressed that what he saw was only in a short three-hour visit aboard the Northern Adventure. "I am absolutely certain that the rest of the team will have more to report as there were many items I was told about but did not have time to see personally."
'Bag of offal'
Badior said the state of the ship would make it hard for the people working on it. "Once again they have been handed a bag of offal and are expected to make a steak out of it."
"Sure the carpets and curtains look good but look under or behind them and it is a totally different story," he wrote. He could blame the people who bought the ship, he said, but ultimately he held the federal government officials responsible. "Once again [Transport Canada] did a substandard inspection and issued a certificate allowing this to happen."
"In my opinion there are people at Transport Canada who are negligent in the performance of their duties and should be sacked," he said. "Transport Canada is a joke, actually it isn't because people have died due to their incompetence." He added, "So much for protecting the public interest."
The Transportation Safety Board had criticized Transport Canada in reports for doing "substandard inspections" on the Queen of Surrey and other vessels, he said. "It appears that if anything things are much worse in that regard four years later."
Badior advocated that the ship be taken out of service "and at the absolute minimum the regulatory required items be repaired."
As previously noted, the Northern Adventure did go to Deas Pacific Marine for further work.
A Transport Canada media contact in Vancouver yesterday took a list of questions from The Tyee about the certification process in general and the Northern Adventure in particular. The contact said specific reports about the Northern Adventure would likely only be available through an access to information request. Later, she sent an e-mail that said:
"BC Ferries' passengers can be assured that safety is Transport Canada’s top priority. Transport Canada has a strict set of standards and regulations which ferry operators like BC Ferries must meet in order to certify their vessels. To stay certified, they are inspected each year. The Canada Shipping Act, though, requires owners to keep their vessels in shape to meet these conditions at any moment."
An e-mailed request for comment to BC Ferries went unanswered Tuesday.
Badior noted that despite the vessel's deficiencies, there would be opposition to taking it out of service even for a short time. "Politically that will never happen as even the mayor of Prince Rupert, Herb Pond, was already squawking about taking the ship off the run and how bad it would be."
NDP ferry critic and North Coast MLA Gary Coons raised safety concerns at the time. He put out an April, 28, 2007, press release saying Northern Adventure had "serious safety concerns."
B.C. Ferries president and CEO David Hahn attacked Coons in an e-mail, saying, "This is the type of negative publicity which undermines the efforts of everyone to rebuild tourism and travel since the sinking of the [Queen] of the North. It hurts BC Ferries and everyone who owns and operates businesses on the North Coast and beyond... Not helpful and not very smart."
And Steve Smith, who has since been appointed a B.C. Ferries board member, lashed out in a letter to the editor of the Prince Rupert Daily News. "I read with disgust the recent press release from our NDP North Coast MLA Gary Coons," he wrote. "The Northern Adventure is a first-class ship with amenities that are unsurpassed by anything we have had before to serve our northern marine highways."
Coons said Badior's report shows he was right. "Once I got the documentation, I was shocked and appalled that the minister and the premier and those at BC Ferries would allow the ship out," he said. "Somebody weighed the pros and cons and they put the safety of crew and passengers and the public confidence in our ferry systems at risk."
There needs to be a public inquiry into the sinking of the Queen of the North and a follow-up on the report by George Morfitt that found a "dysfunctional safety culture" at B.C. Ferries, said Coons.
There's too much secrecy at B.C. Ferries, which is not covered by provincial freedom of information legislation, he said.
The problems with the Northern Adventure show why more information should be available, he said. "A year after the vessel sank, a vessel was put out there that should not have been on the waters."
Another new vessel to be used on the Northern Routes, the Northern Expedition arrived last week. It was built by the same FSG shipyards in Germany that built B.C. Ferries' three new Super-C Class vessels.
- Rank Moderator
- Posts: 4614
- Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 11:38 am
- Location: Now where's the starter button on this thing???
Inverted2 wrote:You're taking on the shipping industry too?
It think it's more a TC issue, and by what I'm hearing living in a town service only be BC Ferries, they and TC have dropped the ball on this one in a big way.
This story is a symptom of the rot at TC. I won't even go into my thoughts on the TC inspector who showed up at our company for annual trying last month. Lots of questions asked of him - zero real answers... Even he is not sure what he's supposed to be doing.
Having dealt on a one on one basis with the top people in both TCCA and Transport Canada's top official words fail me to describe the level of dishonesty all parties concerned displayed.
We would be far better served to have the criminal gangs in Vancouver run TC....at least they would cull some of the herd.
After over a half a century of flying I can not remember even one trip that I refused to do that resulted in someone getting killed because of my decision not to fly.
$50 mil don't buy dick anymore.B.C. Ferries bought the Sonia for $50.6 million in 2006, and renamed it the Northern Adventure..
Wonder what she was called before she became the Sonia.
Most sources claim the ship was built for the Italian Tomasos Transport and Tourism Lines (TTT Lines) in 2004. However, reliable sources also list the ferry registered under the name Atsalakis 010 on September 24, 2001. This name is likely a "hull name" given by the builder, as it carry's the same name as the Atsalakis Shipyard, where she was built. Atsalakis Shipyard is located in Perama, Greece, a suburb of Athens and connected to the ancient port of Piraeus, the center of the Greek shipping industry. While still under construction, the ferry appears to have been renamed Adamantios Korais on August 4, 2003. By the time the ship was apparently completed in July of 2004, she was renamed again, this time as Sonia.
http://www.westcoastferries.ca/ferries/ ... nture.html
http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Transpo ... erryBaird/Minister Baird commits to look into ferry, regulatory concerns
By Andrew MacLeod March 12, 2009 04:45 pm 1 comments
Federal transportation and infrastructure minister John Baird said he would look into safety concerns raised about B.C. Ferry Services Inc.'s Northern Adventure and Transport Canada's certification process.
“I'm certainly prepared to take the specifics of any specific concerns that were raised and look into them,” Baird said during a visit to Victoria. “Obviously our mandate at Transport Canada, much as it is here in the province, is the safety of the public. And I'll take any particular concerns back to my officials in Ottawa.”
The Tyee reported yesterday that B.C. Ferries Captain David Badior wrote a previously unreleased report in April 2007 that listed numerous concerns about the condition of the Northern Adventure when it was put into service on the northern routes between Port Hardy, Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands.
In the report Badior was highly critical of Transport Canada's “substandard inspections” and allowing the vessel to sail before it was ready. "In my opinion there are people at Transport Canada who are negligent in the performance of their duties and should be sacked," he said. "Transport Canada is a joke, actually it isn't because people have died due to their incompetence."
He added, "So much for protecting the public interest."
B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon defended Transport Canada. “I would totally disagree with his characterization of Transport Canada,” he said. “Actually I think if anything Transport Canada finds themselves on the overly cautious side and maybe that's their role.”
Falcon said he has at times met with Badior, who has been promoted to a management position at B.C. Ferries since his report. “At the time he was part of the union and the union would periodically make allegations that the ferries were unsafe,” Falcon said. “I've found no evidence to back that up whatsoever.”
B.C. Ferries bought the Greek-built Northern Adventure after the Queen of the North sank in 2006. Two people, Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, were missing after sinking, and are presumed drowned.
For the record, my personal experience with Falcon was equally waspish.
There you go, now everyone should feel better.Falcon said. “I've found no evidence to back that up whatsoever.”
Politicians of course are so honest who would doubt one?
After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.
Posted 1h 56m ago | Comment | Recommend E-mail | Save | Print |
Yahoo! Buzz Digg Newsvine Reddit FacebookWhat's this?OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — An overloaded canoe capsized on a reservoir in Burkina Faso, killing at least 15 women and children, state radio reported Sunday.
The accident occurred Saturday in the village of Toesse, about 100 miles north of the capital, Ouagadougou.
Villagers were crossing the reservoir to attend a funeral, the radio said, blaming overcrowding on the boat.
Fifteen bodies were recovered by authorities, and one baby is missing and feared dead. Five people survived, the radio said.
Small wooden canoes are a common means of transport in Africa, and are frequently dangerously overloaded with passengers and goods.
At least they are still using ships in BC
- Rank Moderator
- Posts: 4614
- Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 11:38 am
- Location: Now where's the starter button on this thing???
We're lucky to get 12kts on our boats here....
- Rank Moderator
- Posts: 5431
- Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 3:47 pm
- Location: Straight outta Dundarave...
Happiness is V1 at Thompson!
Ass, Licence, Job. In that order.
Not the fault of the ship mind you... just really bad specifications. You can build the best damned ship in the world, but if the specifications are shoddy, the end result is a shoddy ship.North Shore wrote:...Tried those already. Bought for $500 mill, sold a few years later for $30