Crewmember Injured in Boat Drill at B.C. Ferry Terminal
On Wednesday, two crewmembers of the B.C. Ferries vessel Queen of Cumberland fell into the water during a rescue boat drill at the Swartz Bay terminal on Vancouver Island. According to company spokeswoman Deborah Marshall, the rescue boat's davit failed as the boat was being lowered (or raised), causing the two crewmembers in the boat to fall into the bay.
Both were wearing survival suits at the time of the accident, and they were quickly pulled from the water by their shipmates and taken to a hospital. One of the two crewmembers was injured.
In a statement, B.C. Ferries said that it has canceled sailings for the Queen of Cumberland while the vessel's rescue boat davit is under repair, and the Salish Eagle will fill in on the Cumberland's route. The company is investigating the cause of the equipment failure.
Rescue boat and life boat drill accidents occur with an unfortunate frequency in the shipping industry, according to regulators, unions and safety experts, and can result in serious injuries or death. To address this longstanding problem, the IMO recently strengthened its guidelines and requirements for safety during rescue drills. The IMO reports that the leading causes of boat drill accidents are the failure of on-load release mechanisms; inadvertent operation of on-load release mechanisms; inadequate maintenance of lifeboats, davits and launching equipment; communication failures; lack of familiarity with lifeboats, davits, equipment and associated controls; unsafe practices during lifeboat drills and inspections; and design faults other than on-load release mechanisms.