In response to Luanne Roth’s letter to the editor dated February 6, 2020, I would like to provide some clarification regarding anchor dragging incidents at the Port of Prince Rupert.
Luanne’s letter correctly notes that anchor drags occurred during the storm conditions experienced on January 28, 2020, all of which were successfully managed without incident as per procedure. However, her observations unfortunately have several factual errors that the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) feels compelled to correct. Most notably, the LPG carrier Umm Laqhab did not drag anchor. This vessel was anchored in the outer harbour for the evening following its departure from terminal (with a pilot on board and a tug, Tsimshian Warrior, in company, as per standard LPG carrier procedures while transiting the harbour) while it waited for conditions to improve to a state that would safely allow for the pilots disembarkation at Triple Island.
Vessel anchors can drag during severe wind events, requiring an affected vessel to hold its position under its own power until a marine pilot can attend the vessel and securely reset its anchor. However, as we have noted before in this space, anchor drags are considered a low-risk incident because of active preparedness, monitoring, and response outlined in the Port’s practices and procedures contained in the Port Information Guide. These regulations mandate readiness levels for vessels at anchor with specific procedures linked to wind and seasonality to mitigate the risks of anchor dragging incidents. These procedures have proven highly effective in ensuring the vessel maintains its position, and are a coordinated effort between the vessel master and crew and the dedicated women and men at PRPA’s Port Security Operations Centre, Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications Traffic Services, BC Coast Pilots, and SAAM SMIT Towage.
PRPA is continually seeking ways to improve marine safety, including review of our policies and procedures related to vessel and anchorage management. Building upon previous work, we are currently undergoing an objective review of the Port of Prince Rupert’s navigational risk profile, inclusive of anchorages, that quantifies and prioritizes risks and evaluates policies, procedures and investments that can effectively mitigate them.
We appreciate interest from community members like Luanne about marine safety at the Port of Prince Rupert. We always welcome dialogue about improving our management of the harbour and our operations. You can reach our community relations team at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our community comment line at (250) 627-5621.
Vice President of Public Affairs & Sustainability
Prince Rupert Port Authority