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Two crew members unable to escape sinking vessel

Date of incident: October 2014
Notice of incident number: 2014113820925
Employer: Water transport company servicing fish farms

Incident summary
After servicing fish farms, a landing craft was travelling overnight to a port for scheduled maintenance. Not far from their destination, the vessel started taking on water and the deck became covered with a significant amount of water. The vessel started listing to one side and then capsized. One crew member managed to escape before it capsized and he was picked up by a rescue boat. The vessel quickly sank after capsizing, and the other two crew members were trapped aboard and died.

Investigation conclusions

  • Undetermined cause of the vessel sinking: It could not be determined what caused the vessel to capsize and sink. At the time of this WorkSafeBC investigation, the vessel had not been recovered for a close inspection.
  • Two crew members trapped in the sinking vessel: As the vessel listed to starboard, the two crew members probably fell in that direction. The stairs or ladder to the lower deck were on the starboard side, so it is likely that the two crew members fell to the lower deck as the vessel capsized, trapping them under water. The two crew members were recovered from the lower deck.

Underlying factors

  • Failing to recognize imminent danger: The captain was an experienced mariner and had spent many years on the water in all types of weather. At the time of the incident, the weather was good and the seas were calm. The vessel is believed to be in seaworthy condition, and was only a short distance from its destination when it began to take on water. It is possible that as the situation deteriorated, the captain believed he could safely get his crew to shore and that abandoning the ship was not required. However, the situation rapidly got worse and the vessel was listing very badly, making it impossible for the two crew members to escape.

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Publication Date: Oct 2014 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2014113820925