Marine investigation M16P0378


The occurrence

On 13 October 2016, the tug Nathan E. Stewart with seven people on board ran aground on Athlone Island at the entrance to Seaforth Channel, approximately 11 nm from Bella Bella, British Columbia, while pushing the empty unmanned tanker barge DBL 55. The tug’s hull was breached and diesel oil was released into the environment. There were no injuries reported.

The articulating tug and barge (ATB) was enroute from Ketchikan to Vancouver. TSB examined the tug Nathan E. Stewart and conducted interviews. Investigators will continue to collect data and analyze information. The owners of the tug have determined that the Nathan E. Stewart is beyond repairs and are making arrangements to dispose of the tug; however, the tanker barge DBL 55 is being repaired.

Map of the area


Photo of Glenn Budden

Glenn Budden has been a Senior Marine Investigator at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada since 2007.

Prior to joining the TSB, Mr. Budden owned and operated a commercial fishing business. He has 35 years' experience in the fishing industry, operating, managing and advising on several types of fishing vessels and fisheries on both coasts. In his later years, in the fishing industry, he facilitated the first industry led stability education program (Fishsafe) to fishermen in British Columbia.

Mr. Budden holds a Fishing Masters II certificate, and his last vessel was the seiner Ocean Venture.


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Photos used with the permission of the RCMP.

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Transportation Safety Board investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation:

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.


Deployment notices

TSB launches investigation into the grounding of the tug Nathan E. Stewart and tanker barge DBL 55 in Seaforth Channel, British Columbia
Read the deployment notice


TSB looks into the grounding of the tug Nathan E. Stewart
Read the deployment notice