A senior regional investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada arrived in St. John’s Tuesday morning to assess what went wrong when a cargo ship ran aground in Bay Bulls on Sunday afternoon.
Shannon Pittman spoke with The Telegram from the airport before he made his way to Bay Bulls harbour and the MV BBC Oregon.
The 138.5-meter vessel was carrying a load of piping when it went aground on the rocky shore.
Shortly afterward, Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response deployed a team to the site and an assessment of the vessel was done by Coast Guard in consultation with the vessel owner.
Coast Guard ship Edward Cornwallis and the tug Beverley M towed the ship off the rocks and to a safe anchorage in the harbour.
According to an emailed statement from Coast Guard, there were no injuries or pollution during the incident.
It’s not yet clear what happened that caused the ship to run aground, and that’s what Pittman aims to find out.
“Our mandate is to advance transportation safety, so we’ll look at the details of the incident and determine whether there’s a safety deficiency that we can identify that could improve transportation safety.”
"...we’ll look at the details of the incident and determine whether there’s a safety deficiency that we can identify that could improve transportation safety.” — Shannon Pittman
Pittman’s background as a captain will help, but he’ll also be joined by another investigator from the safety board whose background is in engineering.
“We’ll be able to look at all aspects of the operation on board.”
Pittman said in situations such as this, the process involves an initial look at the information provided, and then make contact with the vessel to obtain further details.
“Then we’ll make a decision whether to deploy a team to gather further information from the vessel. In this case, we have decided to send a team — myself and one other team member — to further assess the situation, (and) gather some additional details before we make the decision to proceed with the full investigation.”
He said there’s no definitive timeline on how long the assessment will take.
Pittman would not comment on any early indications as to what went wrong — he said until he can gather more information it would be purely speculation.
Meanwhile, according to Coast Guard, an underwater hull survey was completed on Monday using a contracted diving company to determine the extent of damage to the vessel.
Coast Guard said it will continue to manage the response to the incident and assess next steps.