A tugboat crash in the Gardner Canal on Nov. 2 has allegedly left a Prince Rupert man with minor injuries after the vessel ran into the shore of Rix Island.
The Prince Rupert company, Wainwright Marine, who owns and operates the vessel, Cadal, which was towing a barge of heavy equipment from Kitimat to Kemano, stated to The Northern View on Nov. 10 that human error was the cause.
The crash has left Irvin Joseph, a deckhand on the Cadal, with fears of returning to work, so he is speaking out about the occurrence.
The three-member crew was eating dinner when the incident happened with the mate in control of the wheel. The galley and the wheelhouse are located in the same space, Joseph said.
The crew looked up and saw the vessel headed toward shore. The captain took over control of the vessel and attempted evasive maneuvers to avoid colliding with land. However, the vessel still impacted with the shoreline. The tug was then reversed from shore. In the attempt to prevent the barge from crashing onto the shore, the tug collided nose first with the barge, Joseph said. After the crew inspected and determined there was no intake of water, the vessel continued on to its destination.
Joseph said marine emergency services were not called, and as he was on board the vessel, he was unable to obtain medical attention for neck and shoulder injuries until it docked two days later.
“Wainwright Marine Services is in the late stages of its investigation into this incident,” the company stated, in an email to The Northern View, on Nov. 10.
“We have interviewed the captain, mate and deckhand. It would have been very unprofessional to make any statement prior to giving the crew an opportunity to explain what happened.”
“Wainwright Marine is satisfied with the crews’ statements of events and has determined that human error is at fault,” the email reads.
Wainwright stated the crew member admitted his error and has been re-assigned.
“We have not terminated this employee as we believe that people can make mistakes, and we hope to re-evaluate the person’s abilities and determine where they may be assigned in the future.”
The incident occurred just nine months after another Wainwright Marine vessel, The Ingenika, sunk on Feb. 11, 2020, during inclement weather along the same route of the Gardner Canal. Two crew members lost their lives, and a third was rescued after swimming to shore.
“We also hope that all the families and friends of all of our crews present, and past seek counsel if needed as this event may be triggering to the tragic event earlier this year,” Wainwright stated.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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