News release

Language barriers and failure to use available navigation resources contributed to 2013 tug accident in the Port of Montreal, Quebec

Québec, Quebec, 9 October 2014 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada today released its investigation report (M13L0123) into the collision between bulk carrier Heloise and tug Ocean Georgie Bain in the Port of Montreal, Quebec. The investigation determined that language barriers on board the Heloise, and the failure to use available navigation resources on board both vessels contributed to the collision.

On 03 August 2013, the Heloise entered the main channel of the St. Lawrence River, where it met with two upbound vessels and numerous pleasure craft. At about the same time, the Ocean Georgie Bain had left its base to assist another vessel with berthing and was also entering the main channel. The pilot on the Heloise, concerned by the presence of pleasure craft, altered its course. Once the Heloise was clear of the craft, the pilot steadied the course of the vessel in the direction of the Ocean Georgie Bain and the 2 vessels collided. The pilot on the Heloise was not monitoring the Ocean Georgie Bain at the time of the collision, and the bridge crew on the Heloise was not assisting the pilot by maintaining a lookout or using navigational equipment to advise the pilot of relevant traffic.There was considerable damage to the Ocean Georgie Bain but no damage to the Heloise other than traces on the hull.

The investigation identified numerous risks including that operations on the bridge can be affected when language barriers inhibit communication. In addition, vessels in close proximity might not be detected and a collision may occur if available resources for safe navigation, such as radars and an electronic chart system, are not used. The investigation also found that companies and vessel masters must understand and apply all of the safe manning requirements for a vessel to be manned adequately.

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