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'Misjudgment in ship handling' to blame for hard landing: BC Ferries

The bow of the 26-year-old ferry was damaged as it pulled into the berth at Tsawwassen

BC Ferries is investigating what it says was a “misjudgment in ship handling” after the Spirit of Vancouver Island had a hard landing at Tsawwassen terminal on Saturday.

“There was no mechanical issue with the vessel,” BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said Monday.

“The incident was caused by an misjudgment in ship handling.”

She the company is conducting a full investigation and will debrief the crew “so we can understand the sequence of events and take any learnings from the incident.”

The bow of the 167-metre ferry was damaged as it pulled into the berth at Tsawwassen at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

None of the 207 passengers and no crew members were injured. No vehicles were damaged, Marshall said.

Wren Handman was on the upper car deck when the boat docked.

“There was a definite crunching kind of crashing noise, but it didn’t feel like a big deal,” she said. “I hadn’t actually realized we hit something. There was just kind of like a sort of shake and the whole boat kind of lurched forward a bit.”

She said she realized there was a problem when she saw the ship’s ramp come down and ferry crew gathered around to inspect it.

Handman said she drove off the ferry around 6 p.m.

After the incident, staffed carried out on-site repairs to permit the ship’s ramps to be lowered and allow vehicles to leave the ferry. According to BC Ferries, all passengers were off the vessel by 8:30 p.m.

The berth did not need any repairs and there was no impact to the environment, Marshall said.

Additional repairs to the 26-year-old ferry are taking place at Tsawwassen terminal.

The vessel requires repairs to steel on the bow, Marshall said. It is anticipated the work will take about 10 days.

Once repaired, the Classification Society, on behalf of Transport Canada, will inspect the repairs before the vessel returns to service, she said.

Ferry passenger numbers have been down about 80 per cent in recent weeks due to COVID-19 and vessels are operating at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity.

— With a file from Roxanne Egan-Elliott

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