Response to marine safety recommendations – Leviathan II

Transport Canada’s response to marine safety recommendations M17-01, M17-02, M17-03 issued by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada

On March 19, 2018, Transport Canada (TC) released this revised response to Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s (TSB) investigation report on the 2015 accident in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia involving the passenger vessel Leviathan II. Transport Canada (TC) has reviewed the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report and has developed revised responses to the three recommendations.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) Recommendation M17-01:

“The Department of Transport ensure that commercial passenger vessel operators on the west coast of Vancouver Island identify areas and conditions conducive to the formation of hazardous waves and adopt practical risk mitigation strategies to reduce the likelihood that a passenger vessel will encounter such conditions.”


TC agrees with the recommendation. The CSA 2001, s.106 requires the authorized representative of a Canadian vessel develop procedures for the safe operation of the vessel. Marine Safety inspectors are providing specific warnings on vessel inspection certificates which include such directions as “the Master is to be mindful of the effects of tidal current, wind, swell and reflective waves in shoaling waters near the shore”.

To ensure that authorized representatives are reminded of their obligations Transport Canada (TC) will issue a Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) regarding the development of procedures for the safe operation of their vessels with topics such as weather, waves and dealing with the emergencies.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada Recommendation M17-02:

“The Department of Transport require commercial passenger vessel operators to adopt explicit risk management processes, and develop comprehensive guidelines to be used by vessel operators and Transport Canada inspectors to assist them in the implementation and oversight of those processes.”


Transport Canada agrees in principle with the recommendation. Further research and analysis is needed to determine whether the development of comprehensive guidelines would be an effective means to supplement the existing requirements.

Transport Canada, as per section 106(1)(b) of CSA 2001 requires that authorized representatives develop procedures for the safe operation of the vessel and for dealing with emergencies.

For vessels that are not subject to the Safety Management Regulations (such as small vessels less than 24 metres in length, vessels carrying fewer than 50 passengers), Transport Canada’s view is that the safety concerns continue to be best addressed through the existing, hands-on regime of the CSA 2001 regulations, as well as TC’s compliance programs, which includes mandatory and risk-based inspections. The risks associated with small vessels tend to be centered on a few fundamental factors (such as hazard identification, developing operational procedures, managing risk), rather than the more complex issues associated with managing larger vessels which formal Safety Management Systems (SMS) are designed to address. TC encourages owners of domestic commercial vessels to use the developed SMS guidance material available through TC’s website, and also encourages them to implement a complete and functional SMS.

Since 2010, TC has extensively consulted stakeholders through the National Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) regarding changes to the Safety Management Regulations. Industry and stakeholder input has been discussed, evaluated and considered. In order to reflect the concerns and advice of industry stakeholders, TC’s initial proposal for more extensive application of the proposed safety management regulations has been revised to focus on commercial vessels carrying 50 or more passengers.

Thus, in terms of the explicit risk management processes identified in the above TSB recommendation, SMS guidelines on TC’s website cover the necessary elements to build a robust SMS (e.g. hazard identification, assessment of risk and management of risk by identifying mitigating factors, training). TC therefore considers that the first part of the TSB recommendation M17-02 has already been met.

To address the second part of the recommendation, TC proposes to adapt the 2014/15 Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) checklist for domestic vessels carrying less than 50 passengers. This would include reviewing, in further detail, compliance with the CSA 2001 s106 (1)(b). This approach would also provide further guidance to small passenger vessel operators, promote SMS, and ultimately increase safety and security awareness amongst masters and crew.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada Recommendation M17-03:

“The Department of Transport expedite the proposed changes to the Navigation Safety Regulation and expand its current emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) carriage requirements to require that all commercial passenger vessels operating beyond sheltered waters carry and EPIRB, or other appropriate equipment that floats free, automatically activates, alerts search-and-rescue resources, and provides continuous position updates and homing-in capabilities.”


Transport Canada agrees in part with this recommendation. The new, consolidated Navigation Safety Regulations (ten existing regulations will become one) are in development and consultation with stakeholders is already underway. They will incorporate the updated requirements of chapter IV and V of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, and propose an expanded domestic emergency beacon and Automatic Identification System (AIS) requirement.

Under the current proposal, commercial vessels operating outside sheltered waters will have to carry some means of secondary distress alerting equipment however it is TC’s view that EPIRB or other float free systems may not always be the appropriate technology.

TC has proposed the carriage of float-free 406 MHz EPIRBs onboard all commercial vessels more than 15 tons (12 metres in length or more) when operating beyond sheltered waters. For commercial vessels less than 15 tons operating beyond sheltered waters, TC has proposed a more flexible approach which includes float-free EPIRBs, manually-activated EPIRB or 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs).

There a number of issues associated with the use of Float-Free EPIRBs on smaller vessels that were taken into consideration:

Theft: Smaller open construction vessels often have to be emptied when alongside to prevent the theft of equipment onboard. Float-free EPIRBs are not designed to be removed and reinstalled daily, increasing the risk that the EPIRB will not be reinstalled properly in the bracket and will not float-free during an emergency.

Activation: A float-free EPIRB has to release itself from its enclosure before it reaches a depth of 4 metres (IMO RESOLUTION A.810(19)). In order to do so when a vessel has capsized, the EPIRB has to be strategically mounted to avoid it being stuck under the vessel in case the vessel remains afloat upside down. The EPIRB must also be protected from accidental damage (from crew, passenger traffic or other equipment and machinery) during normal work operations onboard, which makes it difficult to find a suitable location on smaller vessels. Based on the size of the vessel and the requirement for 4 metres of depth release, the amount of time necessary for the EPIRB to release from its enclosure and self-activate must also be taken into consideration.

Small crews: For small vessels with only 1 or 2 crew it often takes quite some time before it is noticed that someone fell overboard. An EPIRB would not be effective in this scenario, whereas a PLB or a portable VHF radio with DSC worn on an individual would be a safer, more effective choice of device.

Cost: Float free EPIRBs are expensive to buy and maintain when compared to other possible devices. The hydrostatic release unit for a Category I EPIRB (float-free) has to be replaced every 2 years and the battery every ~5 years by the manufacturer. Category II EPIRBS (manual) and PLBs often have user-replaceable batteries and do not have a hydrostatic release.

  < 8 metres 8 metres (to 15 tons) >12 metres (15 tons)
NC 1 and beyond Float Free EPIRB Float Free EPIRB
(currently manual EPIRB is allowed)
Float Free EPIRB
(already required)
NC 2 Float Free EPIRB; or Manual EPIRB; or 406 MHz PLB; or Portable VHF-DSC/GPS Float Free EPIRB; or Manual EPIRB; or 406 MHz PLB Float Free EPIRB
(already required if > 20 m)