TSB urges more oversight, training in wake of BC tug sinking

Transport Canada should do more to help captains respond to girding situations, the agency says

(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) says the sinking of a tugboat on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast highlights the need for increased oversight and certified training for captains, the Times Colonist and The Canadian Press reported.

Sheena M., operated by Active Marine Towing, was pulling a barge when the tug capsized off Langdale on Oct. 1, 2019. In a new report, the TSB said the tug sank when it made a turn, but the barge didn't respond and the force capsized the vessel, an event called girding. The captain and deck hand were able to safely escape and were rescued by a passing vessel.

The report said the sinking highlights the need for more oversight from Transport Canada (TC) in regulating the operation of smaller tugboats. The TSB said Sheena M didn't need a safety management system under TC regulations, but it added that training under such a system would have helped the captain recognize the trouble facing his vessel.

"The (board) has previously found that towing companies tend to rely on a master's skills and experience to avoid girding situations and do not provide masters with guidance, training, and education on how to recognize and respond to girding situations," the safety board said.

Click here to read the story. Click here to read the TSB report.

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