Lifeboat drill went awry, 2 injured, partly from corroded equipment, safety panel found

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has completed its investigation into a lifeboat accident that seriously injured two crew members in Vancouver’s English Bay nearly two years ago.

The men were in the lifeboat on the Blue Bosphorus Cargo ship for an exercise on December 1, 2020. The lifeboat suddenly broke off the ship at around 1:15 p.m. and crashed into the water.

For the crew inside, the free fall was about 14 meters ⁠ – that’s almost three floors.

On Tuesday, the TSB said the lifeboat became detached because the slings or wire ropes holding the ship in place failed.

During the exercise, the crew “unknowingly” attached the ropes to the boat in such a way that they put too much pressure on the boat According to report back right corner. Steel clamps holding part of the ropes together had corroded and cracked over time and could not withstand the pressure.

First the sling tore at the right rear of the lifeboat. The rest then followed, releasing the lifeboat without warning.

An injured crew member of the Blue Bosphorus is hospitalized in Vancouver after being injured in a falling lifeboat during a safety drill December 1, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The report said the crew members had stood in the lifeboat and were not strapped to any seats. One was left with serious hand injuries and the other injured his legs.

Coast Guard officers, the Vancouver Police Department’s Marine Unit and the Vancouver Port Authority all responded to the call. Both crew members were transported to the Canadian Coast Guard base in Kitsilano and then taken to the hospital.

The TSB said Apollonia Lines SA shipping company had established regular maintenance routines to check the lifeboat and its launching equipment, but had not specifically instructed the crew to check the condition of the slings.

The company replaced the damaged equipment on the Blue Bosphorus after the incident. It also sent its ships new safety requirements around “inspections of lifeboats and related equipment and for lifeboat drills,” the TSB said

A broken bracket and sheared bolts are seen aboard the Blue Bosphorus Lifeboat after the failed exercise on December 1, 2020. (Provided by the Transportation Safety Board)

A Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft comes ashore in Vancouver’s English Bay after rescuing two crew members from a cargo ship. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

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