Third man out

Transport Canada has changed the way voyages are classed. Minor Water Class 4 voyages were meant to have disappeared under the new CSA and so would many towboats operating with only two crew. This policy seems to be a classic “east of the rockies” decision, taken with little input from other stakeholder such as the west coast tug boat industry. For the time being, things will remains as they are. Mark Wilson of Canadian Sailings explain in the June 26 issue what the scoop is.

On a side note, it should be interesting to see where these new crew member will come from.


Industry avoids expensive changes to operating practices … for now

The B.C. towboat industry has avoided expensive changes to established operating practices that were threatened under the new Canada Shipping Act and Regulations. But, ominously, the reprieve is subject to future review.

The new act, along with the regulations that will give it bite, is due to come into force next spring. Currently draft regulations are being issued for final corporate comment. An earlier version of the regulations would have loaded new demands on small tugs used in West Coast harbours currently deemed to be hometrade IV waters.

Phillip J. Nelson, president of the Council of Marine Carriers, which represents much of the towboat industry on the Pacific coast, said towboat movements within harbour limits at Vancouver, Victoria, Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Nanaimo and some other ports are classed under the present act as home-trade voyages Class IV, where two-man tug operations are allowed.

The only other classification meriting such relaxed treatment covers minor waters; these are chiefly inland, though Jervis Inlet and Alberni Inlet are included.

“Under the new regulations, as first proposed, the industry could have seen the home-trade IV designation disappear and be faced with meeting new manning, equipment and vessel stability standards, as a consequence,” Capt. Nelson said.

“One change would have been the need for a third crew member on what had previously been a two-man tug; an extra person over the service period of a vessel is a major cost. And then there would be the expense of providing additional or new lifesaving, firefighting, fire-suppression, and navigation and radio equipment. Changes to vessel stability requirements could force the retirement of some vessels.”

Capt. Nelson said Transport Canada has relented and the hometrade Class IV will be retained for previously designated harbours and some sheltered waters, such as Howe Sound, the scenic fjord immediately north of Vancouver. The new regulations will term these voyages as “Sheltered Water Voyages.”

In another concession, Transport Canada has agreed to continue an existing concession allowing Class IV voyages (or the new sheltered waters designation) between Vancouver harbour and Howe Sound, which has an operating pulp mill (another closed recently) and a deep-sea terminal.

Prior to 1994, tugs transiting between Vancouver harbour and Howe Sound had to be equipped to undertake home-trade Class III voyages (or obtain an exemption from Transport Canada). As only a narrow vector of non-designated water separates harbour and sound, a change was made to allow Class IV voyages between the two bodies of water. As first written, the new regulations would have abolished this dispensation.

The worry for the industry, Capt. Nelson said, is that Transport Canada has indicated that the designated sheltered waters are to be reviewed after the new act takes effect. Thus, arrangements that the industry has fought to retain could be changed.

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