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News release

Significant safety deficiencies identified in the April 2015 fire and sinking of the fishing vessel Frederike. C-2 off Rimouski, Quebec

Québec, Quebec, 28 April 2016 –  In its investigation report (M15C0045) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) concluded that shortly after it departed Rimouski, Quebec, a fire broke out in the engine compartment of the Frederike. C-2, possibly due to a failure in the generator engine.

At 0145 on 28 April, 2015, the Frederike. C-2 left Rimouski with a master and three crew members onboard. At approximately 0230, charred wood could be smelled in the wheelhouse and a crew member went to the engine compartment to discover that it was filled with dense smoke. After the master decided to return to Rimouski, and after an unsuccessful attempt was made to put out the fire, the life raft was inflated and the crew abandoned ship at 0300. The crew was rescued by the fishing vessel Marie-Karine D around 0330. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Cap Perce was dispatched to assist. The vessel burned to the waterline and sank by 1515. No injuries were reported.

The investigation uncovered a number of safety deficiencies. The master’s certificate had expired more than two years before the occurrence. The crew had not received onboard familiarization and safety training before starting their duties. Nor had steps been taken to ensure that the crew understood the use and location of the lifesaving and fire-extinguishing appliances onboard. Further, the master did not communicate the event in accordance with the Canadian Radiocommunication Regulations or use Standard Marine Communications Phrases. Instead of alerting the Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS), the master believed no CCG intervention was required and called the master of the Marie-Karine D, who then reported the situation to the MCTS.

The investigation also found that electrical and various other repairs were not reported to Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security (TCMSS) nor were two previous engine failures reported. Additionally, on 19 June 2012, a TCMSS inspector issued a Notice of Deficiency to the authorized representative (AR) of the Frederike. C-2 stating that the vessel required a safety familiarization and training manual onboard, specifically relating to firefighting and lifesaving equipment, and all tasks related to the safe operation of the vessel. The notice did not indicate any timeframe for rectifying the deficiency. On 25 March 2013, when TCMSS inspected the vessel again, there was still no familiarization and training manual on board. However, no further action was taken by TCMSS in this matter and the vessel was allowed to continue operating.

The TSB has identified safety management and oversight as a Watchlist issue. As this occurrence demonstrates, some transportation companies are not effectively managing their safety risks. The Board has been calling on Transport Canada (TC) to implement regulations requiring all operators in the marine industry to have formal safety management processes and for TC to oversee these companies' safety management processes.

In this occurrence, there were no fatalities; however, there continues to be approximately one fishing-related fatality per month in Canada. Loss of life on fishing vessels is also a Watchlist issue, and the TSB also conducted a Safety Issues Investigation (SII) into fishing safety. In this occurrence, two of the 10 safety significant SII issues: training and the cost of safety.

The SII emphasizes that the safety of fishermen will be compromised until the complex relationship and interdependency among safety issues is recognized and addressed by the fishing community. The Board continues to call for concerted and coordinated action by federal and provincial authorities and by leaders in the fishing community to improve the safety culture in fishing operations.

Following the occurrence, TCMSS inspectors at the Marine Safety Service Centre in Rimouski added compliance deadlines to Notices of Deficiency issued in relation to the familiarization and training manual. Failure to comply with this notice by the deadline will result in administrative monetary penalties.

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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376