Inquiry: Sunken ferry crew distracted

March 12, 2008 at 3:22 PM
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VICTORIA, British Columbia, March 12 (UPI) -- A western Canadian ferry that hit an island and sank in 2006 had an understaffed bridge crew too busy chatting for 14 minutes, a federal report said Wednesday.

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board released a report on the sinking of the "Queen of the North" off British Columbia's Pacific Ocean coast on March 22, 2006, that killed two passengers. The report said the bridge was one person short of a full crew, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported from Victoria.

The report said the man and woman at the helm had recently ended a romantic relationship and were involved in personal discussions before the ferry slammed full-speed into Gil Island, the newspaper said.

"Essentially the system failed that night," said Wendy Tadros, chairwoman of the TSB. "Sound watch-keeping practices were not followed and the bridge watch lacked a third certified person."

Of 101 crew and passengers aboard, 99 people survived. The bodies of a man and woman missing were never found, the reports said.

One of the report's recommendations calls for voyage data recorders on all of Canada's 100 ferries, the Canwest news service said.

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