Reassessment of the response to TSB recommendation M16-01

 Recommendation M16-01
in PDF [165 KB]

Adequate stability information for crews of new and existing large fishing vessels

Background

On 05 September 2015, the fishing vessel Caledonian capsized 20 nautical miles west of Nootka Sound, British Columbia. At the time, the vessel was trawling for hake with 4 crew members on board. Following the capsizing, the master and mate climbed onto the overturned hull and remained there for several hours. When the vessel eventually sank, the master and mate abandoned it, and the mate swam toward and boarded the life raft. The Canadian Coast Guard subsequently rescued the mate and recovered the bodies of the master and the 2 other crew members.

The Board concluded its investigation and released report M15P0286 on 14 December 2016.

TSB Recommendation M16-01 (December 2016)

Crews on fishing vessels need adequate stability information to enable them to determine safe operating limits. A fishing vessel may undergo major modifications at one or more times in its life, and it is always subject to many minor changes that accumulate over the years, contributing to changes in its lightship weight. These changes are not necessarily reflected in the vessel's stability calculations. The need for vessel crews to have easily understood, accessible, up-to-date stability information that can be adapted to the operations at hand will help to ensure that day-to-day operations are conducted safely.

In order for fishing vessel stability information to be adequate to meet the needs of crew:

  • the vessel must have had its stability assessed according to a recognized standard that is appropriate to its size and operation;
  • the information from that assessment must be analyzed/interpreted to determine safe operating limits (such as draft/freeboard, appropriate maximum cargo loads, sequences for loading, lifting, and stowing of cargo and gear, and for managing fuel consumption);
  • the operating limits must be easily measurable and relevant to the vessel's operation;
  • the information must be presented in a manner and format that enables it to be clearly understood and easily accessible to crew while working onboard;
  • the information must be maintained so that it is current, and reviewed and amended as necessary to reflect changes to the vessel and/or its operations. For example, if the vessel starts exceeding its draft or freeboard limits, the loading limits may need to be amended accordingly, or the reason for the change in draft (such as increased lightship weight) needs to be identified and rectified.

The Caledonian had a stability assessment and stability booklet prepared in 1976; however, the information in that booklet was outdated due to changes made to operational practices and an increase in the vessel's lightship weight that had accumulated over its 39 years of service. These factors reduced the vessel's freeboard and stability significantly, contributing to its capsizing and the loss of 3 lives.

Additionally, the Caledonian's stability booklet did not include an assessment of the effect of lifting bags of fish on deck with the boom, nor did it offer guidance or information sufficient to enable the assessment of load conditions that were different from those in the stability booklet. The basic information that was provided for this purpose was not in a user-friendly format and had not been interpreted to provide clear, safe operating limits.

The stability information available to the crew of the Caledonian was deemed to have met the applicable regulatory requirements. However, when compared against the elements of adequate stability information described above, only the requirement for the original stability assessment was fully satisfied.

The Canadian fishing vessel fleet includes about 145 vessels that are greater than 150 gross tonnage, like the Caledonian. They are regulated under the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations and are therefore required to undergo stability assessments and have stability booklets produced. However, these regulations do not address the regular monitoring of vessel lightship weight and do not include standards or guidelines to ensure that vessel-specific stability information is provided that is adequate for use by fishermen.

Therefore, the Board recommended that

the Department of Transport establish standards for all new and existing large fishing vessels to ensure that the stability information is adequate and readily available to the crew.
TSB Recommendation M16-01

Transport Canada's response to Recommendation M16-01 (March 2018)

Transport Canada agrees in principle with the recommendation. All new and existing large fishing vessels are required to have adequate stability information as is outlined below and must update it when the information changes. The standard practice for stability places the accountability on the master who is trained on stability issues to provide direction to the crew. Given the TSB's input, Transport Canada will consult with the large fishing vessel industry regarding the feasibility of requiring a stability notice or other means to make stability information more readily available to the crew. Consultations related to Fishing Vessel Regulations Phase 3, which will implement the IMO Cape Town Agreement, will provide a good opportunity to do this.

For the fishing vessel Caledonian, there was a discrepancy between the vessel's stability information and the actual operations and configuration of the vessel (lightship weight increase, tanks, net drum and trawl configuration changes and reduced freeboard). This may have been avoided had the requirements of the Large Fishing Vessel Inspections Regulations (LFVIR) and the recommendation in Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) 01/2008 Fishing Vessel Safety: Record of Modifications, been followed by the vessel's authorized representative (AR).

Therefore, to remind vessel operators of their responsibilities, increase awareness, and foster compliance, TC will review and reissue SSB 01/2008. This bulletin will be updated and include emphasis on the importance of having accurate stability information and operational procedures. The revised bulletin will be re-issued in spring 2018.

New requirements, as well as potential changes to look and feel of stability information, will be considered for inclusion in the LFVIR to address this issue. This will be undertaken as part of the phased approach to changes to the regulations governing fishing vessels. Phase 1 is complete. Phase 2 (addressing construction requirements for small fishing vessels) is underway. Phase 3 (safety requirements for large fishing vessels) will begin once phase 2 is complete and will introduce the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Cape Town Agreement of 2012. In this context, TC will consider the mandatory requirement for a stability notice for large fishing vessels.

During any inspection conducted in accordance with requirements of the LFVIR, an inspector may review the vessel's stability information and require Authorized Representatives (AR) to comply with any observed nonconformities. Therefore:

  • TC, when providing instructional information to inspectors/surveyors as part of its training program, will place renewed emphasis on this aspect of vessel inspection.
  • In addition, a Flagstatenet instruction to inspectors/surveyors will be issued regarding the review of the Fishing Vessel Modification History (as detailed in SSB 01/2008) as part of the TC procedure for inspecting and monitoring fishing vessels. The Flagstatenet will be sent before the start of the next fishing season in spring 2018.

TSB assessment of Transport Canada's response to Recommendation M16-01 (March 2018)

Transport Canada indicates that it agrees in principle with this recommendation. The TSB notes TC's proposed actions to consider requiring mandatory stability notices, to improve the look and feel of stability information, to reissue SSB 01/2008, and to renew emphasis on stability booklets during inspections.

If TC's actions collectively ensure that fishermen have access to stability information that is current and continually updated to reflect any changes to the vessel and/or its operations, and this information provides user-friendly safe operating limits (stability notices) to crew, then the identified safety issues will be addressed.

However, consultations between TC and the large fishing vessel industry have not yet begun regarding the feasibility of requiring a stability notice or other means to make stability information more readily available to crew and, therefore, the Board considers the response to the recommendation to show Satisfactory Intent.

Transport Canada's response to Recommendation M16-01 (January 2019)

Transport Canada (TC) agrees in principle with the recommendation. TC has revised Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) 01/2008 – "Fishing Vessel Safety: Record of Modifications." This bulletin now includes emphasis on the importance of having accurate stability information and up-to-date operational procedures when modifications to the vessel are made as well as emphasis on obtaining stability notices. Accordingly the risk will be reduced as more owners of fishing vessels obtain stability notices for their vessels.

The bulletin is in the final publication phase and is expected to be made available in winter 2019.

A FlagState.net instruction to inspectors/surveyors will be issued following the publication of the SSB regarding the new Fishing Vessel Record of Modifications Affecting Stability form (detailed in the revised SSB 01/2008) as part of the TC procedure for inspecting and monitoring fishing vessels.

TC is currently reviewing its inspector training program. Once complete, TC will place renewed emphasis on this aspect of vessel inspection when providing instructional information to inspectors/surveyors.

New requirements, as well as potential changes to presentation requirements for stability information, will be considered as part of work on the Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations Phase 3 amendments for the Large Fishing Vessel Inspections Regulations in order to further address this issue.

TC has updated its fishing vessel safety webpages to provide information on how to obtain Stability Notice templates, which have been developed in an easy-to-use format. Samples of Stability Notices, including guidelines on how to complete the templates, have also been made available: https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/how-obtain-stability-notice-templates-instructions.html

TSB reassessment of Transport Canada's response to Recommendation M16-01 (March 2019)

The Board notes that Transport Canada (TC) has updated its website to include stability notice templates and guidelines for how to complete them. The Board also notes TC's proposed actions to consider requiring mandatory stability notices, to improve the look and feel of stability information, and to renew emphasis on stability booklets during inspections in the winter of 2019. Since TC's response, it has issued SSB 03/2019 to replace SSB 01/2008.

However, the Board is concerned that use of the stability notice templates and the Fishing Vessel Safety: Record of Modifications form is voluntary. Voluntary use of these forms may not be sufficient to reduce the risk that stability information is inadequate and not presented in a manner and format that enables it to be clearly understood and easily accessible to crew while working onboard.

Consultations between TC and the large fishing vessel industry are not scheduled to begin until after Phase 2 of the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations work is complete. TC indicates that Phase 2 work is ongoing and targeted for pre-publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in June 2020.

The Board considers the response to the recommendation to be Satisfactory in Part.

Transport Canada’s response to Recommendation M16-01 (January 2020)

Transport Canada (TC) agrees with the recommendation. At present, the Large Fishing Vessel Inspections Regulations do not include requirements for Stability Notices and Records of Modifications, therefore TC is only able to recommend their use on a voluntary basis. New requirements, as well as potential changes to presentation requirements for stability information, will be considered under Phase 3 of the Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations and in amendments to the Large Fishing Vessel Inspections Regulations in order to further address this issue. Phase 3 will begin following the completion of Phase 2, which is planned before the end of 2021.

TSB reassessment of Transport Canada’s response to Recommendation M16-01 (March 2020)

The Board notes that Transport Canada (TC) has issued Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) 03/2019, which is applicable to fishing vessels that are not more than 24.4 m in length and not more than 150 gross tonnage and highlights relevant sections of the Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations (FVSR). However, because new requirements and potential changes to the presentation requirements for stability information will only be considered in Phase 3 of theFVSR and in amendments to the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations (LFVIR), the obligations outlined in the SSB are not enforceable at present. TC can only recommend that all large fishing vessels have a stability notice in place for the safety of the vessel and crew.

Consultations between TC and the large fishing vessel industry are not scheduled to begin until after Phase 2 of the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations work is complete. TC indicates that Phase 2 work is ongoing and is targeted for pre-publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in June 2020. Phase 3 of the FVSR and amendments to the LFVIR will begin following the completion of Phase 2, planned before the end of 2021.

The Board considers the response to the recommendation to be Satisfactory in Part.

Next TSB action

The TSB will continue to monitor TC’s planned actions on this recommendation.

This deficiency file is Active.

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