Safety Advisory Foundation for Education & Research

Safety board report says deadly tug sinking in B.C. highlights systemic safety issues

March 8, 2023

By The Canadian Press

The deaths of two men after their tugboat sank off British Columbia’s coast have prompted recommendations from the Transportation Safety Board for all such small vessels in Canada.

The tug Ingenika was towing a loaded barge in a narrow channel along the northern coast when poor weather affected its ability to tow and maintain speed, and the safety board’s report says the tug started taking on water.

The three men aboard were able to abandon ship, but only one person made it to the life raft and the bodies of the pilot and deck hand were recovered hours later by search and rescue crews.

Transportation Safety Board chair Kathy Fox says it has investigated six occurrences of similar-sized tugs since 2015 and their systemic safety issues have been on its safety watchlist for 13 years.

The board makes four recommendations, including that tugs under 15 gross tonnes undergo regular inspections, that owners and operators assess risks adequately and that the Pacific Pilotage Authority ensure that only qualified crew members are allowed to pilot a vessel.

Fox says the Ingenika investigation highlights ongoing concerns and Transport Canada needs to increase surveillance of the vessel class and require owners and operators to assess risks adequately.

Troy Pearson, the 58-year-old pilot, and 25-year-old crew member Charley Cragg died in the water after the vessel sank in February 2021.

Charges under the Workers Compensation Act were laid last month against the tug company, Wainwright Marine Services, and one of its senior officials, alleging violations of occupational health and safety regulations.


Courtesy OHS Canada