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Author Topic: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!  (Read 3677 times)

Ian

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"Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« on: March 22, 2006, 09:53:45 PM »
At approximately 12:43 am on Wednesday, March 22, the Queen of the North hit a rock and sank in Wright Sound.
BC Ferries operations on this route are suspended until further notice.
Contact 1-888-223-3779 for more information.
http://www.britishcolumbia.com/transport/details.asp?id=8

From Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060322/wl_canada_nm/canada_crash_canada_ferry_col

"VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A ferry carrying nearly 100 people sank in the early hours of Wednesday off Canada's rugged Pacific Coast, but everyone on board was evacuated by lifeboat and rescued.

The Queen of the North was believed to have struck a rock at about 12:43 a.m. PST near Gil Island, about 75 miles south of Prince Rupert as it sailed though the Inside Passage on the northwest coast of British Columbia.

All 99 passengers and crew escaped the stricken vessel, which is now completely submerged, said government-owned BC Ferries Corp., which operates the province's fleet of ferries, which serve as a vital transport link in the region."
« Last Edit: March 22, 2006, 09:56:15 PM by Ian »
Cheers, Ian - from Adelaide, South Australia. GMT+0930 +1 for Daylight Robbery - Oct to Apr
A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles. Tim Cahill
A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. John Steinbeck

Tom

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2006, 10:08:11 PM »
Fortunately, all souls were saved. But, apart from the age of the vessel, this raises the question of why the presence of the "rock" was not known, given the years the ferry service has been operating in that area. Doesn't provide any assurance that anyone boarding the ferry would survive the trip. It's on my "don't go there" list.
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DougJ

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2006, 01:09:38 AM »
Doesn't provide any assurance that anyone boarding the ferry would survive the trip. It's on my "don't go there" list.

Oh, I think you may be being a little hasty.  The investigation is just starting, but some reports are saying that the ship was off course due to, presumably, a failure of sophisticated navigational equipment or human error. 

With BC ferries, the odds of fatalities are very low: less than the highway toll on a typcial US weekend over the life of the ferry system.

Doug ( a Vancouverite)


Jim Dick

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2006, 06:53:52 AM »
Fortunately, all souls were saved. But, apart from the age of the vessel, this raises the question of why the presence of the "rock" was not known, given the years the ferry service has been operating in that area. Doesn't provide any assurance that anyone boarding the ferry would survive the trip. It's on my "don't go there" list.

Tom,

When our son was on the USS Kidd, he ran into a similar experience. The Captain was letting him bring the ship into the pier when suddenly the prop struck a huge rock. Turned out a storm had brought the rock into the port and was unknown to anyone. Now this was in fairly shallow water so it's hard to say if the ferry might have experienced a similar situation.
Jim

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Tom

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2006, 07:47:30 AM »
Oh, I think you may be being a little hasty.

Doug, prudent yes, hasty maybe. When the cause is known, it would be appropriate to take another look.

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some reports are saying that the ship was off course due to, presumably, a failure of sophisticated navigational equipment or human error.

Sounds like conjecture. But, irrespective of the cause, I can't think of a worse way to die than drowning, with the possible exception of fire.

Quote
( a Vancouverite)

And no doubt unbiased  ;D
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Tom

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2006, 07:52:27 AM »
....he ran into a similar experience.

Jim, was that an intended pun?  :)

As we know only too well, something sticking up from the bottom where it's not expected can be a real bitch. When we haul the boat to replace/repair props, the owner of our friendly boat yard quietly asks Chris "were you driving again?"  ;D
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Jim Dick

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2006, 08:38:28 AM »
Tom,

Nope, not an intended pun. ;D

What I liked about the Chesapeake is it is all sand. Not many rocks to hit. I did hit in the channel of the Wicomico river one time. I was inside the bouy line but too close to the outer edge of a bend. Forgot about all the silt. Cost me just over $200 to have it hauled and a broken pin replaced. :-[
Jim

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U.S. Navy Veteran
2000 American Dream 40' DP
2012 GMC Terrain
2006 Suzuki Boulevard C50T Motorcycle
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DougJ

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2006, 10:49:17 PM »
Hi Tom,

Doug, prudent yes, hasty maybe. When the cause is known, it would be appropriate to take another look.

I accept that this may be a prudent decision on your part, yet I wonder: After an aviation accident of unknown cause, do you take to the train--only to be surprised by an Amtrak incident? ???

The report out of Prince Rupert offers a few (speculative?) observations.

------------------------------

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. (CP) - Passengers on an overnight B.C. ferry were
torn from their sleep Wednesday morning and thrown into a living
nightmare, evacuating onto lifeboats that tossed and swayed on stormy
seas for more than an hour as the Queen of the North disappeared "like
the Titanic."

Ninety-nine passengers and crew were accounted for, saved by the
efficiency of coast guard rescuers and the reckless heroics of a local
aboriginal band. But B.C. Ferries was unable to find two passengers.
George Foisy of Terrace, B.C., said his brother Gerald Foisy and
Gerald's common-law wife Shirley Rosette remain unaccounted for.

Ferry officials insist everyone got off the ship and speculate Foisy and
Rosette returned to Prince Rupert from Hartley Bay on their own,
although the village is inaccessible except by air and boat.

George Foisy said the passenger head count at Hartley Bay numbered 63 -
two short - despite a fellow traveller's initial claim he saw the
middle-aged couple in the village.

"He thought he got a glimpse of them and just thought 'Wow, they're
OK,' " said Foisy, who saw the couple board the ferry for their holiday
trip south. "Now he's not so sure."

Ferries handed the file over to the RCMP as a missing persons case,
saying Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette may have attempted to find their
own way back to Prince Rupert from the remote aboriginal community of
Hartley Bay.

It was an even stranger twist in a day that began for those aboard with
a crashing noise, then another, then sirens.

"Within an hour, the ship actually tilted to the side, levelled out and
it sunk down to the sixth deck, came back up like the Titanic, dipped
and then it went under," said passenger Lawrence Papineau.

Another passenger reported the ship split in half.

Douglas Rice, 74, was on the ship with his wife on a vacation from
London. An alarm went off and "we were all just sort of pulled out of
the cabins."

He and his wife clambered into a life raft with a female crew member and
a retired Qantas flight attendant.

"It was very, very wobbly and it was very dark."

"It was fairly rough, the sea, but the worst part was the rain. There
was quite heavy rain."

Rice and the others bobbed in the life boats for more than an hour.

But fishermen and members of the Gitk'a'ata in Hartley Bay, alerted to
the disaster by radio phone, charged into their boats in their
shirtsleeves and pushed off into the inky storm waters, sometimes
without running lights.

They scooped Rice and many other passengers into their vessels,
returning over and over again for more.

In shock and shivering, the passengers were bundled into blankets by the
rescuers and served coffee in the hall of the tiny community on B.C.'s
rugged and remote Inside Passage.

"Everybody in Hartley Bay was involved in this one, literally everybody
from small children to the elders, including some elders that couldn't
even walk," said Ernie Westgarth, housing co-ordinator for the village.

"To see all these people coming off the rescue boats onto the docks was
a sight in itself - the young and old, the scared, shocked look on their
faces, young children with no shoes."

James Bolton had been getting ready for a game of poker when his group
got a call from a friend at 1 a.m.

The gillnetter took to his boat and helped pull 13 people off the
lifeboats.

He saw the ship go down, watching the massive vessel bend as it headed
deep.

"The lights were still on until about halfway down. It sort of popped
back up and then went straight down."

Another rescuer said he heard the 16 vehicles inside the ferry crash
together like roughly handled toys.

Westgarth said the entire Hartley Bay community of 200 helped to give
the passengers hot coffee, tea, pastries and hot chocolate.

"It's got to be said: the people of Hartley Bay are heroes. I've seen
them do this before but not on this scale. People (residents) are still
walking around in a daze, like tired, they haven't slept at all. They
want to make sure everybody is safe and fed."

Rice, who was taken to hospital by helicopter due to his high blood
pressure, said the people in Hartley Bay were tremendous.

As he spoke to a reporter in a Prince Rupert hotel, he shifted in his
borrowed clothes. A stranger pressed money into his wife's hand. Someone
else had bought them both new underwear.

Health officials in Prince Rupert said 11 people had been treated in
hospital for cuts and scrapes.

Suzanne Johnston of the Northern Health Authority said the passengers
walked into the hospital on their own, but were obviously stressed.

"Mostly, they just wanted to connect with people."

After daybreak, the rest of the passengers were shepherded onto the Sir
Wilfrid Laurier, a coast guard icebreaker. They set sail again to make
the three-hour-plus voyage back to Prince Rupert.

It was just over 12 hours after the Queen of the North had left Prince
Rupert for its routine 8 p.m. overnight sailing.

By then, there was nothing visible at all of the ship.

Environment officials mobilized a spill response team as an oil slick
spread over the water. Life jackets, cafeteria trays and paper floated
within it.

The Queen of the North hit a rock just after 12:30 a.m PST off Gil
Island in Wright Sound. It sank within an hour.

Hahn said the hit would have had to have been major to sink the ship so
quickly, but he wouldn't speculate on the cause of the accident.

"It was clearly off course. There's no other way to look at it. The
question is, how did it get to be where it was?"

The captain was not on the bridge at the time, but Hahn would not say
who was. B.C. Ferries regulations require the captain have a backup for
a the 15 hour voyage.

Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board were expected to
arrive in Prince Rupert late Wednesday afternoon.

A "shocked" Premier Gordon Campbell travelled to Prince Rupert and said
counsellors will be on hand to help the passengers, as will officials
from the Insurance Corp. of B.C., the province's auto insurer.

"It's frightening," said Campbell.

"I've heard this morning that some of the passengers were awakened in
their nightgowns and I imagine it's pretty darn scary. . . Thank God
that we've got all these people apparently safe (but we have to)
recognize that these things last for people for some time."

Although B.C.'s ferries are considered an extension of the province's
highways, the death toll on those waterways is significantly less: only
four people have died in accidents with the formerly Crown-owned ferry
fleet in the last 20 years.

The Queen of the North was sailing south on a 450-kilometre overnight
trip from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy along B.C.'s Inside Passage, a
strikingly beautiful stretch of coast immortalized in some of Emily
Carr's paintings.

Seas were reported to be choppy and winds were blowing at about 75
kilometres an hour.

According to the B.C. Ferries website, the ship was built in Germany in
1969 and refitted in 2001. It can hold up to 700 people and 115 cars.

Campbell said the Transportation Safety Board approved the ferry for use
on that route.

Coincidentally, though, the legislature was to consider Wednesday a
proposal for funding to replace the three northern ferries. B.C. Ferries
has been negotiating the move for two years.

The proposal passed.

------------------------------------

Ciao,

Doug

Tom

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2006, 12:25:46 AM »
Thanks for that report Doug.

I wonder: After an aviation accident of unknown cause, do you take to the train--only to be surprised by an Amtrak incident? ???

I haven't been on a plane since 9/11, although not entirely for the obvious reason and I've never ridden Amtrak.

FWIW as a long-time boater, I have a lot of respect for the power of water and the potential dangers.

Irrespective of the mode of transportation, commercial operators have the responsibility for the safety of their passengers. This wasn't a matter of hitting a little rock that rolled in with the tide or, as happens to us in Delta waters, a partially submerged log that floated down river.

Simple steps can and should be taken to avoid human error or equipment failure, so blaming any of those would be nothing short of irresponsible. Let's hope they get to the bottom of this and that measures will be taken to prevent it happening again.
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Ron

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2006, 09:26:34 AM »
Sounds to me like maybe NOT ALL are safe.  I would think they would make sure of their facts before patting their back for not loosing anybody. :D
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Tom

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2006, 09:58:52 AM »
I had the same reaction after reading the report Ron, but figured that, since I was dog tired last night, I must have misread it.
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Ron

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2006, 12:05:47 PM »
Maybe they figured the All are Safe statement would help distract from any goof ups. :D
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Tom

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2006, 12:14:25 PM »
Whatever the reason, I sure hope those "lost" folks are truly safe and well.
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Ron

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2006, 12:58:13 PM »
I hope thay are too.  But if not I'll bet they don't make a big issue of it.  Lets hope they are safe.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

DougJ

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2006, 11:19:44 PM »
Unfortunately, the hope that the missing two are safe is a vain hope.  Reported sightings on Blakely Island have proven false; the RCMP have established to their satisfaction that the missing two are not on the island.  And "sometime now" a single occupant deep sea vessel is going down (about 1200ft) to map the wreck and the Ferry Corp has requested that the diving operation also search for the bodies of the two.  I don't quite understand how they'll be able to do that, given that the missing two might well have been caught / trapped below.

A retired ferry captain on that route is saying publicly that in his opinion the most likely cause is gross human error.  This does happen: I'm thinking of the passenger plane that went down (in the Everglades if IRC) as both pilots had their heads deep in the cockpit trying to track down a why the landing gear would not go down.  In doing so they missed the fact that the plane was descending--to the point of hitting the ground.  In basic flight training I still remember my instructors drilling me through simulated emergencies: first rule, fly the plane--in whatever condition it is in.

Unlike you, Tom, I continue to fly commercially on the major airlines; I do tend to avoid the smaller, feeder airlines; and on the few occasions when I fly the really small float operations, I like to watch the pilot do his / her walk around--psychological protection more than real protection, I know.  As another example, when crossing the Georgia Straits I take the helicopter not the float plane.  The weather can be very grotty and the helicopter can slow down to a virtual crawl while under special VFR rules--much slower than the twin Otters can.

Ciao,

Doug

Tom

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Re: "Queen of the North" Sunk! All safe!
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2006, 11:53:37 PM »
Reported sightings on Blakely Island have proven false; the RCMP have established to their satisfaction that the missing two are not on the island.

Sorry to hear that Doug.

Quote
...in his opinion the most likely cause is gross human error. This does happen..

You're so right and it's something we risk every day. We all make mistakes and professional captains/pilots/drivers are also human.
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