TSB Concerned About Lack of Crew Training on Steering Emergencies and the Availability of Voyage Data Recordings

GATINEAU, QC, Feb. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its marine investigation report (M11L0160) into the December 2011 grounding of the bulk carrier Orsula on the Battures de Gentilly, near Bécancour, Quebec.

On the morning of 15 December 2011, the Orsula departed Contrecœur, Quebec, for Baie-Comeau, Quebec. While proceeding on the St. Lawrence River under the conduct of a pilot, the vessel lost steering control and ran aground northeast of Bécancour wharf. It was later refloated using tugs. The vessel sustained hull damage, which required repairs. There were no injuries or pollution as a result of this occurrence.

The TSB investigation found that a rudder malfunction was a major cause of the grounding. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that bridge crewmembers had not received adequate training on emergency procedures in the event of a helm failure. The investigation also found that the voyage data recorder (VDR) had not been operating since May of that year. These findings give rise to two Board concerns.

"The Board is voicing these concerns today with the expectation that industry and regulators worldwide will take corrective action in the name of safety," said Pierre Giroux, the TSB Marine Investigator-in-Charge. "The concerns are about familiarity with steering control modes and the availability of information from the voyage data recorder," he added.

The Board is concerned that shortcomings in the familiarization and training of crew members with regards to steering systems may result in risks to life, property, and the environment. The Board is also concerned that when VDR data, in particular bridge audio recordings, are not available to an investigation, this may preclude the identification and communication of safety deficiencies to advance transportation safety.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

SOURCE: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

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