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Marine transportation safety investigation M17A0391

The TSB has completed this investigation. The report was published on 19 February 2020.

Table of contents

Lifeboat release hook failure

Passenger ferry Northern Ranger
Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador

View final report

The occurrence

On 11 October 2017, the starboard lifeboat of the passenger ferry Northern Ranger was undergoing operational testing at the dock in Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador, when its forward release hook failed. While the crew members were lifting the lifeboat to the vessel’s embarkation deck, the forward release hook suddenly released and the lifeboat swung downward, bow first, and hung over the water from the aft release hook and fall. Four crew members were on board the lifeboat at the time of the occurrence. One of the crew members fell through the lifeboat’s forward hatch and into the water; the other 3 crew members remained inside. All 4 crew members were recovered and their injuries were treated in hospital.

Safety communications

Safety advisories


Marine transportation safety advisory MSA 04/18: Failure of lifeboat release hook

Media materials

News release


October 2017 sudden release of passenger ferry Northern Ranger lifeboat during testing caused by improperly reset release hook
Read the news release

Deployment notice


TSB deploys a team to Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, following an accident involving the Canadian ferry Northern Ranger

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 12 October 2017 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, following a lifeboat accident that happened during a boat drill performed by the Canadian ferry Northern Ranger. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence


Photo of Terry Hiltz

Terry Hiltz joined the Transportation Safety Board as a senior marine investigator in 2012 after 31 years with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). The first 26 years of his CCG career were onboard CCG vessels in various positions, including chief engineer. In his last 5 years there, Mr. Hiltz worked as a shore-based vessel maintenance manager, with delegation as the technical authority on numerous CCG vessels for refit projects.

Mr. Hiltz holds second-class motor and fourth-class steam engineer certification, and is also certified as a ship security officer and lead safety management system auditor.


  Download high-resolution photos from the TSB Flickr page.

Class of investigation

This is a class 3 investigation. These investigations analyze a small number of safety issues, and may result in recommendations. Class 3 investigations are generally completed within 450 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB 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.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail 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.