A new report published by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has revealed that poor passage planning and inadequate surveillance for hazards led to the grounding of a passenger vessel, Stellar Sea, in Warn Bay, British Columbia.
The incident happened in October 2016 after Stellar Sea departed Tofino, British Columbia, on a bear-watching excursion with 26 passengers and two crew members on-board.
The vessel hit a rock and went aground during the voyage, thereby causing two passengers to fall and sustain minor injuries.
Two vessels were dispatched to rescue and evacuate the passengers following the incident.
Stellar Sea was eventually refloated and towed for inspection and repairs two days after the collision.
The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) was informed of the accident four and a half hours after the grounding and safe evacuation of the passengers.
According to the latest investigation report from TSB, the vessel’s operator did not pre-plan strategies to identify and address the risks of navigating alone in a challenging marine environment, which is filled with numerous hazards such as rocks, reefs and a large tidal range.
For instance, the operator did not fully utilise the chart plotter and echo sounder system and did not set the available safety zone alarms.
In addition, TSB also found that there was insufficient surveillance for hazards throughout the excursion and Stellar Sea’s operator did not post any dedicated lookout.
Furthermore, the investigation found that the vessel’s master was alone in the wheelhouse and was performing several tasks that compromised his ability to focus on the upcoming course of the journey.