Marine Recommendation M11-01

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Reassessment of the Responses to Marine Safety Recommendation M11-01

Stability guidance information for sail training vessels

Background

On the afternoon of 17 February 2010, the sail training yacht Concordia was knocked down and capsized after encountering a squall off the coast of Brazil. All 64 crew, faculty, and students abandoned the vessel into life rafts. They were rescued 2 days later by 2 merchant vessels and taken to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Board issued the safety recommendation in September 2011.

Board Recommendation M11-01 (29 September 2011)

Sailing vessels rely on the wind to provide propulsion. However, that wind is also the source of significant heeling forces. Consequently, the safe operation of a sail training vessel, such as Concordia, requires a comprehensive understanding of the vessel's stability at large angles of heel as well as the balance between the heeling force of the wind and the righting capability of the hull for any given wind condition and sail plan. These aspects distinguish sailing vessel stability from motor vessel stability. A lack of understanding of these aspects, or an inability to assess the margin of safety of the vessel as conditions change, may result in exceeding safe stability limits, possibly leading to the knockdown, capsize and loss of the vessel.

Following its investigation into the loss of the barque Marques in 1987, U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) recommended that research be conducted with a view to developing a set of stability requirements for sail training vessels. The resulting requirements include the provision of squall curves to assess the vulnerability of a vessel to downflooding under the influence of wind speed increases, either due to gusts or squall conditions. The objective of this information is to provide officers with a means to continuously assess the risk to their vessel and to permit timely mitigating action.

Since the adoption of the standard by the U.K., flag states such as Canada, Malta, Sweden and the Bahamas have also adopted it. Several other flag states, such as the U.S., Poland, the Netherlands and Australia, require vessel designers to perform an initial theoretical assessment of a vessel's stability while under sail. However, they do not require officers to be provided with detailed, vessel-specific guidance information. The lack of such a requirement means that officers must rely on qualitative, experience-based knowledge when assessing risk. However, such reliance cannot ensure that an acceptable, consistent standard of safety is being achieved across the industry, due to the variations in experience and competency.

The squall curves contained in the Concordia's stability booklet indicated that the vessel would be safe in wind speeds approximately twice those experienced in the hour leading up to the occurrence. Although a squall was approaching, the second officer (2/O), who was not aware of this guidance, did not change the sail plan or heading despite the fact that squalls are unpredictable and could involve wind speeds several times greater than those being experienced. Had the squall curves been consulted and acted upon by either the master or the 2/O, the sail plan would likely have been reduced and the heading changed significantly thereby reducing the risk of a knockdown.

Assuming that vessel-specific guidance information is provided, it is then essential that officers be competent to make effective use of it. The investigation determined that the 2/O held a certificate of competency issued by the U.K. However, the stability knowledge required to obtain such a certificate is basic and does not address all stability issues, including squall curves specific to sailing vessels. Neither had the master nor the commanding officer (C/O) received specific training with respect to squall curves as presented in the Concordia's stability booklet.

The TSB has identified a safety deficiency in that the guidance information, such as squall curves, is not required on sail training vessels by many flag states. Although Canada has adopted the use of the squall curves as part of its stability standards for sail training vessels, it currently has no certification scheme in place to assess an officer's knowledge of these standards. While such a certification system is expected to be in place by the end of 2014, its contents have yet to be defined.

Currently, there are 7 Canadian-flagged sail training vessels carrying in excess of 2500 sail trainees on an annual basis. As this occurrence demonstrates, there are potentially significant consequences when officers are unaware of the stability limits of their vessel. Therefore, the Board recommends that:

The Department of Transport ensure that those officers to whom it issues sailing vessel endorsements are trained to use the stability guidance information that it requires to be on board sailing vessels.
M11-01

Response to M11-01 (December 2011)

The Marine Personnel Regulations (MPR) provide training and or certification requirements for vessels and include requirements for the officers of sail training vessels (or any other sailing vessels of at least 60 GT or of at least 24m in length that are carrying passengers) to have sailing endorsements (07 November 2011). The application date has been extended to 07 November 2013 in order to provide sufficient time for Transport Canada to develop the sailing vessel training standards under the MPR. The application deadline extension will also allow approved institutions to prepare training programs and allow affected masters and chief mates to comply with the new standards to acquire the sailing vessel endorsement.

Once these standards are developed, TC will introduce knowledge specifically related to the operation and safety of vessels under sail, including how to use stability guidance information. In addition, Transport Canada is aware of Sail Training International’s plans to develop an international standard. Transport Canada will work towards this standard, with the caveat that it be practical and acceptable to Canadian operators.

Board assessment of response to M11-01 (March 2012)

If fully implemented by 2014, officers on board sailing vessels will be required to be trained and have the knowledge necessary to use the stability guidance information that is required to be on board sail training vessels. The response to this recommendation is assessed Satisfactory Intent.

Response to M11-01 (December 2012)

The Marine Personnel Regulations (MPR) provide training and or certification requirements for vessels.

Section 262 of the MPR outlines requirements for any sail training vessel or any other sailing vessels of at least 60 GT or of at least 24 m in length that are carrying passengers to have sailing endorsements on 07 November 2011.

However, the application date to conform to subsection 262 (3) was extended to 07 November 2014 to provide sufficient time for Transport Canada to develop the sailing vessel training standards under the Marine Personnel Regulations, for approved institutions to prepare training programs and for affected masters and chief mates to comply with the new standards to acquire the sailing vessel endorsement.

Once these standards are developed, we will introduce knowledge specifically related to operation and safety of vessel under sail, including how to use stability guidance information.

In addition, Transport Canada is aware of Sail Training International’s plans to develop an international standard. Transport Canada will work towards this standard, with the caveat that it be practical and acceptable to Canadian operators.

Board assessment of response to M11-01 (March 2013)

If fully implemented, officers on board Canadian sailing vessels will be required to be trained and have the knowledge necessary to use the stability guidance information that must be on board sail training vessels. The response to this recommendation is assessed Satisfactory Intent.

Next TSB action

The TSB will monitor the proposed action. The deficiency file is assigned Active status.