Bulletin No.: 01/1983

Date (Y-M-D): 19 83-01-04

Subject: Responsibilities of shipowners and masters respecting maintenance of weathertight integrity of ships and observance of draught mark and Load Line requirements

The "ARCTIC EXPLORER", en route to carry out seismic exploration off Labrador on July 31,1981 suddenly developed a list and sank off Cape Bauld, Newfoundland in moderate weather with the loss of 13 crew members.

  1. The Court of Inquiry found the cause of the sinking of the vessel to be downflooding as a result of a severe list. The evidence regarding the downflooding covered the possibility of the weathertight doors to the after tween deck being improperly closed.
  2. The Inquiry also revealed that the draught markings on the Norwegian built vessel were found to be previously in error and that on an occasion, the vessel had been overloaded such as to submerge its load line.

1. Shipowners and masters of all classes of ships are reminded that protection of the weathertight integrity of a ship at all times is of paramount importance to the safety of the vessel and all persons on board.

All exterior openings in weathertight structures and enclosures required to be fitted with appropriate closing appliances such as doors, hatches, manholes, deadlights, etc., in accordance with regulations pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act, are to be so provided that when closed, in any sea condition, water will not penetrate into the intact ship.

It is the masters' responsibility to ensure that such closing appliances are closed at sea when necessary and make certain that openings which provide access from an open deck to accommodation, to working spaces within superstructures or to compartments within the main hull are closed tight immediately after general use and maintained closed during any circumstances whereby the safety of the vessel might be threatened.

2. Prior to registry of a vessel in Canada, a scale denoting its draught of water shall be marked permanently and conspicuously on each side of its stem and of its stern post in accordance with Section 12 of the Canada Shipping Act. The shipowner is liable to a fine if the draught scale is in any respect inaccurate.

Because of the detrimental effect of overloading upon the safety of a vessel, owners and masters are advised that it is an offence to overload a vessel and that they are liable on summary conviction to a fine and the vessel detained. Sections 396 and 418 of the Canada Shipping Act relate to the prohibition of the submergence of load lines.

Keywords:                                  Questions concerning this bulletin should be addressed to:

1. Weathertight  Integrity
2.Load line
3. Draught mark
Transport Canada
Marine Safety
Tower C, Place de Ville
11th Floor, 330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

To add or change your address, contact us at: marinesafety@tc.gc.ca

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