News release

Fog and reliance on inaccurate predicted vessel positions contributed to 2014 grounding on Fraser River, British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia, 23 October 2014 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada today released its investigation report (M14P0014) into the grounding of container vessel Cap Blanche on the Fraser River, British Columbia in January 2014. The report identified fog and reliance on predicted vessel positions based on inaccurate information as factors contributing to the grounding.

On 25 January 2014, the container vessel Cap Blanche was on its way to the Fraser Surrey Docks on the Fraser River, British Columbia. The vessel was under conduct of a pilot and visibility was reduced due to fog. The pilot used a function on his portable pilotage unit to assess the rate of turn to transit through the Steveston Bend. The information given by the equipment was inaccurate because it was subject to an unidentified GPS smoothing interval. The Cap Blanche grounded within the buoyed channel in the Stevenson Bend. The vessel was refloated approximately 30 minutes after the groundingwith minimal damage. No injuries or pollution were reported.

The investigation found that if a navigator primarily relies on a single piece of navigational equipment or information, there is a risk of potential errors going undetected. It further identified that the bridge team was unaware of the silting on the south side of Steveston Bend so they were unable to assist the pilot or identify the developing unsafe condition. The investigation also found decisions based on imprecise information can be made if pilots do not make use of the most accurate navigational equipment available to them.

Since the occurrence, the TSB issued a Marine Safety Advisory letter to the Pacific Pilotage Authority, providing information about the discrepancy between inputs from a vessel’s automatic identification system (AIS) and the pilots’ wide area augmentation system (WAAS)-based differential global positioning system antennas. The Pacific Pilotage Authority distributed the safety advisory to all pilots.

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