'Error' led to ferry crash

BC Ferries says a “procedural error” was the main cause of a March 26 incident involving the Queen of Surrey.

The ferry hit the pontoon structure as it was coming into Langdale from Horseshoe Bay.

More than 285 passengers were stranded on board for 10 hours, and service on the route was severely disrupted as crews worked to free the ship, which suffered damage to the lower car deck as well as the hull and the steel plating around a rudder.

The vessel had returned from a refit just two days before the accident, and Darren Johnston, executive director of fleet operations, says a recently completed BC Ferries internal investigation found no “defects or deficiencies” with the ship or its systems.

“The primary cause of the incident itself was a procedural error by the bridge team,” Johnston. “That led to the ship inadvertently not being turned correctly onto its approach track and not being slowed early enough to the appropriate arrival speed.”

Johnston said had the ship been travelling at the correct “arrival speed” it would likely have been possible to stop the ferry before it made contact with the pontoon.

According to Johnston, the individual members of the bridge team were experienced, but this was one of the first times they’d all worked together and that also contributed to the procedural error.

“The main [response to the investigation] is the placement of an additional officer on the bridge so that we have appropriate ability within the navigational team to do the cross-checking and verification of vessel position and speed information during the arrival,” Johnston said, adding that this new procedure has been applied across the fleet.

The Queen of Surrey returned to the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay route in late April. BC Ferries said the cost of repairs was $2.4 million and that the company was covered by insurance.

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