Please select your home edition
Edition
Raymarine AUS 2018 Aug - Axiom - Leaderboard

Fatigue and outdated watch system caused sinking of U.S. Tug in British Columbia, investigation says

by Peter A. Janssen 9 Jun 01:05 UTC
Sinking of the 95-foot-long tug Nathan E. Stewart near Bella Bella, B.C. in October, 2016 © Peter A. Janssen

In a new report that resonates with all of us who go cruising, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said that fatigue, caused by the 6-on, 6-off watch system, was the major factor in the grounding and ultimate sinking of the 95-foot-long tug Nathan E. Stewart near Bella Bella, B.C. in October, 2016. The tug ran aground on Edge Reef on the Inside Passage, about 10 nm west of Bella Bella, just after 1 a.m. when the second mate, the only person on the bridge, fell asleep and missed a course change.

The tug separated from its 287-foot-long, double-hulled barge and sank eight hours after the grounding, spilling 29,000 gallons of fuel. It had been southbound on a voyage from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Vancouver, B.C. An assistant tankerman was on watch with the second mate, but he was busy with duties elsewhere on the boat at the time of the grounding.

The Canadian report echoes conclusions of an earlier U.S. report from the National Transportation Safety Board (the Nathan E. Stewart was a U.S.-flagged vessel), but it focused on the problems of fatigue and sleep deprivation. It said the second mate slept 4 ½ and 6 ½ hours on each of the three days before the accident, but he slept in the mornings, not in the evenings, when he was off watch. "As a result, at the time of the grounding, the second mate had been awake for up to 13 hours."

The problems associated with fatigue – lack of judgment, poor reactions, difficulty in concentration – were also cited in two incidents last summer in the far Pacific when U.S. destroyers collided with merchant ships, resulting in the deaths of 17 American sailors.

The Canadian report says that although the 6-on, 6-off watch system is a long-standing practice, it "was not designed according to principles of modern sleep science." It notes that, "Opportunities to sleep were provided, but the second mate's inability to nap, combined with sleep-inducing conditions on the bridge, led to increased fatigue and resulted in the second mate falling asleep on watch."

It urged the Canadian government to require watchkeepers to receive mandatory training so they can recognize and prevent the risks of fatigue.

Read the full report here.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Cruising Odyssey.

Related Articles

Back Cove tests twin 300-hp Yamaha & 350-hp Suzuki
The Suzukis are 3 knots faster It's not often that you can compare the performance of a brand-new boat with different power configurations, but Back Cove has just released that information for its new 34O (for outboard) cruiser Posted on 10 Sep
New Arrow460-Granturismo: Built like a Mercedes
German luxury car maker teams up with Silver Arrows Marine The first time that the predecessor of Mercedes-Benz designed a boat was back in 1888, when Gottlieb Daimler built a launch for Otto von Bismarck, powered by Daimler's new one-cylinder internal combustion engine. Posted on 9 Sep
New Pardo 50 to be launched at Cannes
The new high-performing, head-turning Pardo 50 The new high-performing, head-turning Pardo 50 will be launched at the Cannes Yachting Festival, starting Sept. 11, exactly a year after the Italian builder's first boat, the Pardo 43, was introduced there to wide acclaim. Posted on 25 Aug
The Youngbloods on Mystic Moon are back in Alaska
The Youngbloods on Mystic Moon are back in Alaska John and Kathy Youngblood are closing in on the finish line of their six-year circumnavigation of the Pacific Ocean on their 2004 Selene 53 Mystic Moon. When we first wrote about them in April, they were in Japan Posted on 18 Aug
A quintessential Pacific Northwest cruise
Slowboat Flotilla runs down west coast of Vancouver Island The Slowboat Flotilla of five cruising boats is now on its third week of running down the west side of Vancouver Island, a quintessential Pacific Northwest cruise in the ocean that isn't all that popular. Posted on 11 Aug
New all-electric Q30 from Finland
Elegant lines, 80-nm range and light enough to tow behind a Tesla With its super-modern, minimalist clean lines and all-white aesthetic, the new all-electric Q30 from Finland's Q-Yachts is designed to make a statement. It wants to be the future of boating. Posted on 28 Jul
12 great new summer toys
Make your cruising life complete In case you haven't had your fill of summer toys, here's a great list from Forbes to help you out. Forbes calls this a list of billionaire superyacht toys, but the title is misleading. Posted on 21 Jul
The Gardyne family cruises to Alaska on their Nord
Next stop, the world The Gardyne family from Alameda, California, across the bay from San Francisco, didn't want to wait for their retirement to start cruising around the world. Two years ago, they bought a 2002 Nordhavn 40 in Seattle and drove it home Posted on 9 Jul
Hinckley launches new Picnic Boat 40
Hinckley just launched its all-new Picnic Boat 40 Hinckley just launched its all-new Picnic Boat 40, the largest Picnic Boat yet, with sea trials off Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard on the weekend before the Fourth of July. With a hull designed by the highly acclaimed Michael Peters Posted on 7 Jul
New futuristic Foiler, with top speed of 40 knots
5 feet over the water on its carbon fiber hydrofoils In case you missed the very James-Bond-looking Foiler when it was launched in Dubai in March, you now can catch it this summer on the French Riviera, where it will be on display in Monaco and Saint Tropez until the fall boat shows. Posted on 24 Jun
Nebo 660x82 1Multihull Central Aquila 36 FOOTERRaymarine AUS 2018 Aug - Axiom - Footer