News release

Unattended vessel navigation controls led to May 2016 collision between 2 tugs near Nanaimo, British Columbia

Richmond, British Columbia, 17 August 2017 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (M16P0162) into the May 2016 collision between the tugs Albern and C.T. Titan in the Northumberland Channel near Nanaimo, British Columbia. The collision led to the sinking of the Albern and damage to the hull of the C.T. Titan. There were no injuries; minor pollution was reported.

On 24 May 2016, at approximately 1730 Pacific Daylight Time, the Albern, with two people on board, and the C.T. Titan, with a crew of three, departed a log yard, bound for Nanaimo Harbour for a crew change. The C.T. Titan was on a parallel course with the Albern and overtaking it.

The investigation determined that, while the vessel was overtaking the Albern at full speed, the master of the C.T. Titan left the flying bridge to navigate from the wheelhouse, leaving the navigational controls unattended for 6 to 8 seconds. During this time, the C.T. Titan veered to port, likely due to its misaligned rudders, and the master could not transfer propulsion control to the wheelhouse quickly enough to avoid the collision. The force of the impact pushed the Albern over, causing it to capsize and then sink. Both crew members of the Albern were trapped underwater as the vessel capsized, but managed to escape before it sank. They were rescued by the crew of the C.T. Titan.

The investigation also found risks related to unsafe work practices, the lack of company safety management processes, and insufficient regulatory inspections. If unsafe work practices, such as the procedure for unattended transfer of control aboard the C.T. Titan, are performed repeatedly without adverse consequences, there is a risk that operators will have a reduced perception of the hazards involved with unsafe work practices and will continue to perform them. The TSB also noted that if companies do not have a process for managing vessel safety, including the development of safe operating procedures, there is a risk that deficiencies in vessel equipment and practices may go unidentified or unaddressed.

Following the occurrence, the company, which owned both vessels, had a safety management system gap analysis performed and an action plan prepared based on the International Safety Management Code. As a result, company staff attended situational awareness and bridge resource management training. The company also corrected safety deficiencies related to life raft securement.

See the investigation page for more information.


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
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca