On day two, passengers were reported missing. How could the ferry crew not know there had still been people onboard? While international maritime regulations require that ferries record identifying information about all passengers (name, gender, and whether they are adults, children, or infants), the Canadian government doesn’t require BC’s ferry fleet to meet international standards. Passenger names aren’t collected and ferry staff don’t even take a head count after loading. The number of passengers is only roughly determined by the number of tickets sold. There is no system in place to count passengers as they move from the ship to lifeboats, should such a situation arise.
The internal investigation BC Ferries conducted after the incident concluded that “human factors were the primary cause” of what happened. The report stated that the fourth officer “failed to make a necessary course alteration or verify such alteration was made in accordance with pre-established fleet routing directives and good seamanship.” During the investigation, crew members responsible for navigating the ship that night claimed that they were unfamiliar with newly installed steering equipment. In addition, they had turned off a monitor displaying their course, because they could not turn on the night settings. The report also concluded that the crew maintained a “casual watch-standing behavior,” had “lost situational awareness,” and “failed to appreciate the vessel’s impending peril.” Transcripts of radio calls that evening noted that music was heard playing on the bridge.
1. Describe the type(s) of control that could be used to improve the BC Ferries service to prevent an accident such as this occurring again. Be specific.
2. Assume that you are the president of BC Ferries. You have read the report of the investigation and noted some of the problems found. What would you do? Explain your reasoning.
3. Would some types of controls be more important than others in this situation? Discuss.