News release

Improved assessments of river pilot performance and proficiency needed after a 2012 striking accident in the Port of Trois-Rivières

Gatineau, Quebec, 14 November 2013 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its report (M12L0095)into a marine accident at the Port of Trois-Rivières, Quebec where the bulk carrier Common Spirit, manoeuvring under the conduct of a pilot, struck the dock causing significant damage to the vessel and the dock.

On 29 July 2012, the Common Spirit struck the dock at section 16 in the Port of Trois-Rivières. The vessel was being assisted by two local tugs at the time. Section 16 is recognized as a challenging location for berthing by the Corporation des pilotes du Saint-Laurent central, the corporation that provides pilots under contract to the Laurentian Pilotage Authority. The manoeuvre to berth a vessel alongside section 16 is challenging due to the layout of the dock and the requirement for several actions to be taken in sequence or simultaneously. These actions are coordinated by the pilot and involve several personnel. The length and width of the Common Spirit added to the complexity, given the limited manoeuvring space between sections 14 and 16. The TSB investigation found that the following factors contributed to the striking: the timing of the order to let go the anchor, the speed of the vessel’s approach, the uncoordinated use of tugs, the continuation of the manoeuvre, and the pilot’s experience.

The Board is concerned that, without standardized and documented assessments of on-board performance, there is a risk that apprentice pilots may be issued a pilot license without the necessary skills and expertise. Furthermore, if periodic, standardized and documented proficiency assessments are not carried out, the Board is concerned that licenced pilots may not maintain the skills and expertise necessary to safely conduct pilotage.


The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca