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Bad maintenance, not crab traps, caused ferry crash: report

An August ferry crash blamed at the time on crab traps had more to do with incorrect maintenance, an internal B.C. Ferry Services Inc. report says.

“There was almost 300 feet of crab trap rope removed from both propellers after the incident,” the Sept. 29, 2010 report into the Aug. 3, 2010 “hard landing” of the Queen of Nanaimo at the Mayne Island terminal said. “This was not considered to be a factor contributing to the incident.”

B.C. Ferries released the report following a request from the Vancouver Sun through the freedom of information process.

The problem was loose dowels in an oil distribution box in the ship's hydraulic system, the report said. Without the dowels the system lost pressure, making it impossible to switch the propeller from a forward position into reverse and slow the vessel down.

On Aug. 5 the Vancouver Sun quoted B.C. Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall saying the crab lines likely caused vibrations making the dowels fall out.

“Correctly installed . . . dowels are difficult to remove,” said the internal report. While the dowels on the starboard side were secured with nuts and locked in place, it said, “the port dowels had no such nuts securing them.”

It was unclear how long the problem had existed, but nobody noticed the problem, the report said. “The non standard configuration of the port dowels was not corrected at any stage prior to the incident.”

A passenger who fell and struck her head during the crash was taken to a hospital for treatment. Four passengers sought medical treatment for their injuries. Three employees required first aid and three others required medical treatment from a physician, the report said.

More records related to the crash can be found here.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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