Who was really in control?

Evidence presented by the navigating officer who was on watch when the BC Ferries’ vessel MV Queen of the North sank is disturbing

To the Editor,

Evidence being presented at the trial of the navigating officer who was on watch when the BC Ferries’ vessel MV Queen of the North sank is disturbing, to say the least. Media reports of court proceedings indicate that the accused officer was alone on the bridge, except for a helmsman who has admitted that she needed assistance to properly steer the ship on leaving Prince Rupert, and that she didn’t understand the mechanism of the autopilot.

When I first went to sea on ocean-going freighters more than a half-century ago, it was standard operating procedure to double-up the bridge watch while traversing congested and narrow waters like the English Channel,  or in the usually fog-bound North Sea when approaching very busy ports in Germany or Holland, for example.

The master would usually double-up with the second mate, while the chief and third mates shared the other watch.

The food fare during the four hours usually consisted of a rather dry sandwich or two; there was never a thought of one of the watch-keepers going below decks to eat, as has been reported at the trial.

The helmsman was always one of your most trustworthy able-bodied seamen (AB);  never would a novice be at the steering wheel in such a situation.

In fact, most shipmasters I came into contact with during my many years at sea would almost always have a favourite expert helmsman at the wheel when entering and leaving port; that was certainly my own modus operandi when I was master, later on in my career at sea.

It’s quite amazing that BC Ferries had a million dollar man running the company—hand-picked from New York City by the BC government, no less—and yet the corporation apparently lacked some very basics in bridge safety.

Bernie Smith,

Parksville

Just Posted

11th annual Magic Cottage kicks off this weekend in Port Alberni

Cottage will be open over two weekends in November

Port Alberni RCMP hold second bike registration event

Project 529 will be at Canadian Tire on Saturday, Nov. 17

Husky Gas Station robbed on Third Avenue

Port Alberni RCMP still searching for suspect

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Port Alberni care homes benefit from funding to purchase new safety equipment

Echo Village and Fir Park Village will be receiving $32,500 each

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Road rescue near Sayward points to volunteer need

Fire department recruits can be tough for small, remote communities

Most Read