More than two years after the fatal sinking of a tugboat in northern B.C., the Transportation Safety Board is recommending greater oversight of previously unregulated small-scale vessels.
The Ingenika hadn’t been inspected for 50 years prior to the day it sank in the Gardiner Canal near Kitimat – a failing of both its owners and gaps in governing bodies, the safety board said Wednesday (March 8).
Under current regulations, tugboats of 15 gross tonnage or less are not certified or inspected by Transport Canada.
Owned by Wainwright Marine Service Ltd., the Ingenika sank during inclement weather on Feb. 11, 2021. It was towing a barge with industrial equipment that was too large for the capacity of the tug in such conditions, family members have claimed.
Two Prince Rupert crew members died in the incident, while a third man was rescued. Captain Troy Pearson, who was an experienced mariner with more than 30 years on the water and Charley Cragg, a deckhand who was new on the job, both perished. Zach Dolan, 18 at the time, was rescued on land about 10 hours after the tug sank.
The families of the deceased men have been fighting for justice and answers since the tragedy happened.
“We need to continue to fight for a clear legacy for those guys because they were honourable men, honourable mariners and diligent about what they did. We need to stand up and make some noise about this because we don’t want this to happen to future mariners,” Judy Carlick Pearson told Black Press Media in February at the second-anniversary commemoration of the sinking.
“We were originally hoping for charges of negligence causing deaths, and unfortunately, that is not the case,” the widow said.
The TSB recommended four changes aimed at regulating tugs of 15 gross tonnage or less:
1) That Transport Canada begin regular inspections of tugs of 15 gross tonnage or less to ensure they are following regulatory requirements.
2) That Transport Canada require tugboat owners to assess the risks of all the different operations their vessels may take on.
3) That the Pacific Pilotage Authority verify tugs meet safety requirements before issuing pilotage waivers to owners.
4) That the Pacific Pilotage Authority create a process to verify ongoing compliance with pilotage waiver conditions.
The TSB recommendations have been made public a month to the day after eight charges against the marine towing company were announced, including fines of up to $777,000.
The charges laid by the RCMP include: failure to ensure health and safety of workers; failure to maintain protective equipment, devices or clothing in good condition; failure to ensure pieces of equipment … were capable of performing the functions which they were capable of; failure to ensure that piece of equipment … were operated, tested and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; failure to provide their workers with the information, instructional training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of the workers carrying out their work; failure to ensure young or new workers were given heal and safety orientation or training specific to the use or personal protective equipment in their workplace … and failed to document such orientation or training; failure to develop and implement appropriate written procedures for a workplace on or over water and in which need to rescue or evacuate workers may arise and failure to hold annual drills to ensure awareness of emergency procedures and/or to ensure that a record of such drills was kept.
More to come …