Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Queen of the North senior officer says Transportation Safety Board missed obvious answer what it ran aground - radar not monitored

Officer asks why radar not watched

24 HOURS EXCLUSIVE

By BILL TIELEMAN, 24 HOURS

A senior officer on B.C. Ferries' Queen of the North when it ran aground says the Transportation Safety Board missed the obvious answer why it sank - the officer on watch did not monitor the ship's radar as it headed straight for Gil Island.

Second Officer Kevin Hilton told 24 hours in an exclusive interview that had 4th Officer Karl Lilgert checked the three radar screens on the bridge as required, the Queen of the North would have never sunk in March 2006.

Hilton was the senior officer at the time but was off the bridge on a scheduled meal break, leaving Lilgert navigating the ship with Karen Bricker, a quartermaster who lacked a Bridge Watchmen's Certificate.

Hilton discounts many of the TSB report explanations, saying that one simple fact is clear - Lilgert did not monitor the radar as required.

"There are three different radars to check, and he was sitting in front of them, so what the hell was he looking at?" Hilton asked. "What was he monitoring for 14 minutes? That's what they don't answer here.

"Even if he missed the original course change, the radar would have told him within one to two minutes he was going in the wrong direction," Hilton said.

TSB senior marine investigator Captain Pierre Murray appeared to agree with Hilton's concern.
"The vessel's progress was just not monitored," he said in an interview. "The officer of the watch is to follow the watch-keeping practices."

Lilgert apologized yesterday but did not explain what happened.

Hilton said the radar was operating perfectly before he left for his break and when he rushed back to the bridge after impact.

"The radar shows in night-vision mode red for land and black for water. When I went in after it hit I could clearly see where the ship was up against the land," Hilton said. "So how come he [Lilgert] didn't see it till then?"

"You don't go not knowing where you are for more than a minute and they had more than 10 minutes without checking. It should have been checked half a dozen times," Hilton said.

"If you can't find out where you are within two minutes, you are in an emergency situation," he said.

The TSB report released yesterday said that the Queen of the North sailed off course for 14 minutes before striking Gil Island.

Hilton, a 25-year veteran who B.C. Ferries terminated along with Lilgert and Bricker, has filed a union grievance to get his job back.

Hilton said the TSB report says the bridge should have had a third certified crew member, but that B.C. Ferries' standard policy was to have two members on the bridge when breaks were taken.

Hilton also said Bricker's role and lack of certificate - which he was unaware of - played no part in the grounding.

"She couldn't have determined the course change or read the radar - that's the officer's job, strictly the officer's," he said.

18 comments:

Gary E said...

So the TSB says that there should be three certified people on the bridge. But BC Ferries standard policy is for only two. Why would the ferry company have a policy sub standard to a National board. Could it be due to the gutting of everything safe in this province?
How long was this policy in effect?

tinaz said...

The obvious problem is the provincial government not regulating workers.

I know first hand how this government is negligent and reckless regarding, inter alia, regulations.

In 2005 I laid four (4) private informations before Judge Kitchen of the Vancouver Provincial court against four (4) different roofers working without a licence and without TQ’s, as was required in the municipality of the city of Vancouver.

Judge Kitchen issued process on all four (4) defendants however due to the city prosecutor’s unwillingness to prosecute the separate individuals, I found myself in a position of a private prosecutor.

The city prosecutor did not intervene with my first prosecution and as a result one of the four defendants pleaded guilty and paid a fine and obtained a licence to work in the city of Vancouver.

The other three defendants however were eventually rescued by the city prosecutor and by the office of the A.G. The private prosecution of the three other Defendant working without qualification, was stayed on the day of the trial by A.G. on the basis that it was not in the public interest to prosecute people working without a licence and without their certificate of trade qualification.

I heard John Les in 2006 on Global TV, when I was involved in my private prosecutions, saying that only a low denominator of the population of British Columbia complain about tradesmen without licences.

Mr. Wally Oppal, being a former judge of the BC Court of Appeal, ought to have known that my novel approach in prosecuting people who passed themselves off as roofers, would have sent a clear message to the industry and some sort of comfort to the residents of this province who many are victims of this government’s lack of due diligence.

The Queen of the North went down because there are no regulations and if there are, the regulations are not enforced by the Crown.

Citizens and residents pay a high price for the government’s willfull blindness. In the case of the Queen of the North, some innocent people lost their lives. --- Tradesmen without proper qualifications can lead to disaster.

There cannot be public order when the government of the day prevents private citizens to exercise their rights to private prosecution, especially when government officials are themselves acting counter to the laws of this land.

Tina Z.

Anonymous said...

why was the quartermaster fired if it wasn't part of the job to check that radar screen?

sooo....the ferry that used to belong to the people of BC was given to a private corporation and then sunk. Or is it ours again now that it sits at the bottom of the ocean, now an environmental threat.

Budd Campbell said...

Bill, I don't see any conflict between what 2/O Hilton is saying and the TSB report.

The TSB found that a course change was not made at Sainty Point, which is error 1 if you will. And then error 2 unfolded over the next quarter of an hour in which the 4/O and the QC continuously failed to notice that they were off course. As Hilton says, checking the radar, even once ever minute or two, would have told them things weren't going right.

In answer to questions from reporters pursuing the public's right to tabloid news and infotainment, Murray stated that what the 4/O and the QC were doing or were talking about is really irrelevant. It's what they were not doing, not keeping watch, that counts.

Over a year ago I was told in a social gathering by a BC Liberal Party member, who is also an Elections Canada official, that "everyone knows what happened, but the union is keeping it quiet", and that the thing everyone knows is that "two of them were having sex on the bridge when it hit". The Liberal party's whispering campaign on this accident has been in full sexploitation mode for over a year now, and tabloid reporters are very eager to catch up. Public safety and a sober assessment of blame and liability are not part ot the game for either Liberals or the infotainment industry.

Anonymous said...

"The radar shows in night-vision mode red for land and black for water. When I went in after it hit I could clearly see where the ship was up against the land," Hilton said. "So how come he [Lilgert] didn't see it till then?"

"You don't go not knowing where you are for more than a minute and they had more than 10 minutes without checking. It should have been checked half a dozen times," Hilton said."

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

That explanation in conjunction with the TSB's finding that Lilgert and Bricker were engaged in a long personal conversation tells me that that conversation must have been heated and that they were oblivious to anything else happening on the bridge.

DL said...

I spent a great number of years as front end crew of military aircraft, and eventually civil aviation.

Every method available to monitor the position, altitude etc. was a constant thing. Knowing where you are, where you are heading , considering track and heading is taught at beginner pilot training.It never stops.

The word needed in the ferry wreck must be lack of constant vigilence, as Bill's guest has stated. Possible boring routine, not being up to date on equipment and so on can be part of the mix. The mark 9 eyeball is the most basic piece of equipment but doesn't seem to have been used.

No professional allows themselves to not be aware of their position.

Sloppy operations are the eventual fault of the training system, sloppy procedures by the bridge staff, and other staff on that ship.

I saw a very experienced exchange officer navigator removed when the Captain found by simple checking cross bearing( in the middle of the Atlantic), that we were off course. The man was sent to the back as a passenger. He was sent to basic navigation school, Canadian course before his return.

I really would hate to go on a BC Ferry knowing that the senior safety training officer left the company after only a few months. Checking the licences don't prove much. We were regularly cross checked by senior folks, checks lasting several days in a row, as we transited. Safety is a big serious word, and we were judged accordingly. More than one person messed up on a lack of disipline during that ship's routine transit DL

Anonymous said...

There could be 25 people on the bridge-if no one does what they are supposed to do it really doesn't matter.

I put this squarely on the shoulders of the union. They protect the jobs of the incompetent to the detriment of all. Its in all union environments. e.g. teachers-the 20 % of teeachers that are useless are protected by the union.

Its fine for the TSB to make recommendations for safer travel in the future. But the fact here is that union members screwed up and dsidn't do their job. Yea, BC ferries should shape up in certain areas but things like a blocked door, poor evacuation training etc. HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FERRY HITTING LAND.

Not only is the union culpable in this accident but by trying to deflect criticism away from the ONLY CAUSE OF THE FERRY HITTING LAND, they are showing thier true, disgusting colors.

Horny Toad

Budd Campbell said...

I put this squarely on the shoulders of the union. They protect the jobs of the incompetent ...

Its fine for the TSB to make recommendations for safer travel in the future. But the fact here is that union members screwed up ...

Not only is the union culpable in this accident ...

These remarks by Horny Toad are part of the BC Liberal whispering campaign I mentioned earlier. For some odd reason 'Horny' doesn't rehash the supposed sexual angle, but that hardly matters. He's striking the main firing pin in the Liberal arsenal, the anti-union thing.

Anonymous said...

Horny toad,
you're letting your horniness and hatred of unions get in the way of logic. There is no basis for your attack on teachers. Maybe you lobby as a profession.

BC Mary said...

.
So Bill ... I'm going to leap-frog over the obvious KKK connection here (Keven, Karl, Karen) and ask:

Do you think that Queen of the North deserves to have Citizen Journalists of its own, focused entirely on BC Ferries, collecting whatever can be found, to explain the loss of two citizens, a very nice old ship, and the confidence of the travelling public?

I think so.

Such a web-site should begin with this report of yours. Thanks for seeking out Keven Hilton and getting his expert views on that tragedy.

Call the web-site DON'T SINK BC FERRIES, or something, because there are so many issues now with the old ferry system which was working just fine.

Btw, there's a very smart editorial denouncing the "empty" Transportation Safety Board report in this morning's THE EDMONTON JOURNAL!! They're indignant that such a load of weasel words should have cost the people of B.C. $900,000. They figure we've been treated badly "everywhichway".

Strange, eh?

.

Budd Campbell said...

I really don't understand why the Edmonton Journal has a problem with the TSB report. Unless their only concern is having an official source for their tabloid needs, two people involved in a recently ended affair, etc., etc.

Given that's what our investigative media are after, they should at least be pleased that the TSB recommended to Transport Canada that all large vessels have voice and even video recorders on the bridge from now on. Next time, they'll have all the footage they "need"!

Anonymous said...

Bill, I'm surprised no one here has yet mentioned the G & B article regarding your fine work!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080314.wbcferry14/BNStory/National/home

Anonymous said...

These remarks by Horny "Toad are part of the BC Liberal whispering campaign I mentioned earlier. For some odd reason 'Horny' doesn't rehash the supposed sexual angle, but that hardly matters. He's striking the main firing pin in the Liberal arsenal, the anti-union thing."

Actually, you don't have to be liberal to see the downside of "unions" And I'm not a liberal, I'm conservative.And I didn't rehash the sexual angle because its not what they WERE doing, its what they WERE NOT doing. For the "union" to say that these two "union members" were also victims is despicable. And by trying to deflect blame onto BC Ferries rather than placing it where it should lay is just asking for it to happen again.BC Ferries may well improve moral, cleanliness,safety drills, etc. but if those on the bridge neglect their duties and let the next ferry hit land the same results will occur.

Incidently, appatently, the woman on the bridge was not qualified to be there. Is that because of some "union" action for her to have that position. Just wondering!

DL said...

The woman on the bridge was not put there by the union, but BC Ferries. I guess she was on some training program and her performance would normally be supervised. It appears she was not being supervised. Strange when she did not have the ticket to do the job?

Maybe if the senior officer did what we always do, eat in position if there was any doubt of a front end members ability and lack of training might put us at risk. Or we were about to change heading or something beyond straight and level. The 4th officer as person in command, if he thought a weather condition of loss of contact with a fishing boat was an issue sedd a call for his senior to come back. Sure is nice to be able to leave the bridge in narrow water and go to the dining room for a meal. But that was standard company practice.The union doesn't set company policy.

I've worked in union and non union occupations and get tired of the union being dragged out when anything goes wrong. Poor training and safety standards are company issues. The two people on the bridge were interviewed by the National Safety Board and the board reached a number of conclusions. They hold the right to not be included if they feel the company will attempt to pin the event totally on their actions. They can, and no doubt will be sworn in some court, where the judge has no bias either way. As the present government says so often. No comment it's before the court. Mind you they arn't charged with anything so far. DL

Anonymous said...

tinaz:

When Moe Sihota - backed by Mike Harcourt - swore a private information against Bill Reid, MLA, a chain of events ensued that toppled the government. The BCLSS library on Smithe has a copy of the "Discretion to Prosecute Inquiry" which goes into great deal on Criminal Justice Branch's procedure, in light of the Reid case.

Discretion to Prosecute Inquiry KM580.35B75

Crown Counsel Policy Manual KM 5824B743

The Law Reform Commission of Canada supported maintaining private prosecution rights, as a check on "corruption." As for the current NDP - read: the James, Farnsworth, Kwan triumvirate - they appear to have a hands off policy, viz the Criminal Justice Branch, notwithstanding their demands for disclosure on BC Rail and other issues. Of course they are all close to law enforcement (James is a cop's wife; Kwan is a former VPD criminologist; Farnsworth works with Neighbourhood Watch). Mike Harcourt needs to offer a little elderly advice.

Anonymous said...

"They hold the right to not be included if they feel the company will attempt to pin the event totally on their actions."

Can't see why the company would want to "pin the event totally on thier actions" after all, all they did was show a total dereliction of duty as they fiddled while the boat ran aground. Nope, couldn't have been thier fault.


Oh, and what was the response of the union. They were victims too. Ya-right!

Horny Toad

Budd Campbell said...

I don't know who Liberal 'Horny Toad' think's he's kidding. From the TSB report it's quite apparent that the two on the bridge were not doing their jobs, but that still needs to be demonstrated in the context of the employer's own system of hiring and firing procedures.

Unions and professional associations have a duty to represent all their members, even when, and perhaps especially when, the evidence against those members appears powerful.

If a professional association of doctors or dentists or lawyers were spending its members dues to represent a member in a civil suit or some other proceeding 'Horny Toad', and the 'impartial Elections Canada' woman who over a year ago gave me her version of events, would have no problem with that. That would be perfectly normal as fas as they are concerned.

But if people they regard as "working class" are being represented by a union in a similar fashion, 'Horny Toad' and the "impartial Elections Canada' woman start to see RED. Such a conspicuous double standard cannot be rationalized, it's clearly a case of intentional and dishonest differential treatment.

Anonymous said...

The best balanced article on the Queenof the North sinking and the TSB report can be found on the March 20th issue of Island Tides. Patrick Brown presents an excellent analysis without all the partisanship of the Horny Toad types. Islandtides.com