Inadequate clutch maintenance grounds of bunkering tanker
Dartmouth, NS – In its investigation report (M17A0004), the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that inadequate vessel maintenance and voyage planning guided by an underqualified crew led to the January 2017 grounding of the bunkering tanker Arca 1 near Sydney, Nova Scotia. There were no injuries to the six people on board and there was no pollution.
On 8 January 2017, while being delivered to Mexico from Sorel, Quebec, the bunkering tanker Arca 1 went aground in Little Pond, Nova Scotia in heavy weather while under reduced propulsion due to a failure of the port propulsion clutch. The vessel sustained major damage to the hull and propulsion machinery. A few days later, the vessel was refloated and towed to Sydney.
The investigation found that the tension on the main propulsion clutch was not checked and adjusted before or during the voyage as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. As a result, the clutch failed due to slippage, causing the loss of port propulsion and a reduction of vessel speed. The loss of speed increased the time required to reach Sydney, preventing the vessel’s arrival before weather deteriorated. The vessel gradually could not continue moving forward in the severe weather, causing it to drift to the west. The anchor was deployed to attempt to secure the vessel, but it could not hold and the vessel continued to drift further west towards the shore until it ran aground.
The investigation also found that the master was not qualified to act as master of the vessel and the motorman was not qualified to act as chief engineer. Voyage planning was carried out in a manner that was not consistent with best practices, as contingencies and limitations were not taken into account. If crew members are not qualified for the positions to which they are assigned, they may not carry out these duties effectively, increasing the risk of an accident or injury.
Following the occurrence, the vessel owner brought the vessel to its final destination on board a heavy lift transport. The owner will also have the vessel certified for operation in ports and for short-distance, coastal navigation.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation 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.