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BC Ferries sues German firm over 2011 crash 0

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

2011 crash A “hard landing” into the Duke Point ferry terminal in Nanaimo was the result of malfunctioning equipment dificult to operate in emergency situations, according to a lawsuit launched by BC Ferries. (KAM ABBOTT/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

2011 crash A “hard landing” into the Duke Point ferry terminal in Nanaimo was the result of malfunctioning equipment dificult to operate in emergency situations, according to a lawsuit launched by BC Ferries. (KAM ABBOTT/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

BC Ferries is suing a German firm in connection with a 2011 crash that caused $4 million worth of damage — alleging a control system it installed “failed” and was “confusing.”

The ferry provider filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court Friday against SAM Electronics Gmbh, alleging a malfunction in the bow propulsion pitch control system, which controls the angle of propeller blades.

As a result, according the claim, the Coastal Inspiration — referred to in the filing as the Coastal Installation — plowed into the Duke Point terminal in Nanaimo travelling about 10.4 kilometres per hour.

BC Ferries alleged the collision was a result of the equipment being unfit for its intended purpose and dangerous, among other complaints.

The claim said an electronic component was not properly shielded from electromagnetic interference, which ultimately led to the crash.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash also said the equipment malfunctioned, but pointed out the controls were not properly set.

“The master engaged the push buttons, but because he had not switched the bow propeller from normal to emergency mode beforehand, the buttons were ineffective,” read the TSB report.

But in the claim, BC ferries said the equipment control panel was difficult to decipher and complained of no audible alarm to warn the crew of danger.

“The colour scheme and design of the various buttons and indicators on the pitch control panel were confusing and prone to cause operator error during emergency situations,” it read.

Equipment confusion for the fleet has come up before.

“Inherent difficulties” in the operation and interpretation of equipment was also used by Karl Lilgert as part of his defence for his role in the 2006 sinking of the Queen of the North.

The Coastal Inspiration was built in Germany and delivered to BC Ferries in 2008 with the equipment already on board.

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the court case is an action between insurance providers.

Marshall also said the same system is on all three of the fleet’s Coastal Class ships.

 

 

 

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