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News release

Associated links (M17A0391)

October 2017 sudden release of passenger ferry Northern Ranger lifeboat during testing caused by improperly reset release hook

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 19 February 2020 – In its investigation report (M17A0391) published today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that the forward release hook on a lifeboat, which was undergoing a scheduled test, suddenly released because it had been improperly reset, and its safety defence did not operate in compliance with the Life-Saving Appliance Code. All four crew members on board the lifeboat were injured in the accident.

On 11 October 2017, the starboard lifeboat on the passenger ferry Northern Ranger was undergoing operational testing at the dock in Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador. As the lifeboat was being lifted out of the water to the vessel’s embarkation deck, the forward release hook suddenly released and the lifeboat swung downward, bow first, and hung over the water, held only by the aft release hook. One crew member fell through the forward hatch and into the water while the other 3 crew members remained inside. All crew members sustained injuries, which were treated in hospital.

The enclosed lifeboat involved in the occurrence was one of two lifeboats that had replaced the lifeboats originally fitted on the vessel. The occurrence lifeboat had been fitted to the vessel’s original davits and falls. The investigation found that the vessel owner had not been provided with the diameter of the end links required for the release hooks to function as designed. As a result, the crew used the end links of the originally fitted davit, and the diameter of these end links was smaller than required. With the lock-position indicator on the forward release hook obscured by the end link during the release hook resetting procedure, the operator assumed that the hook was in the locked position when, in fact, it was not.

Following the occurrence, the TSB issued a safety advisory letter to the parties concerned regarding the models of the release hooks involved in this occurrence, and the company implemented a corrective action prohibiting crew from being in lifeboats during their retrieval.

See the investigation page for more information.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail 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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376