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Queen of the North from Maritime

Posted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 8:52 am
by TxMarEng
This is a bit disturbing to see on an international website.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

CANADA'S Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has issued a “Board Concern” about cannabis use aboard ferries to vessel operator BC Ferries as part of its ongoing investigation into the sinking of the Queen of the North on 22 March this year with the loss of two lives.

The TSB says it has learned that several crew members of the Queen of the North regularly smoked cannabis between shifts, both on board and off the vessel. The TSB stressed that there is no evidence that the crew members on the bridge at the time of the accident were impaired.

"Ferry crews whose performance is impaired by cannabis are a clear risk to the travelling public," said Wendy Tadros, Chair of the Board. "We are confident that BC Ferries will determine the extent of the problem and effectively manage this risk so it will not lead to a serious accident."

A statement added: “In expressing its concern and highlighting the risk, the Board believes that BC Ferries is in the best position to determine whether this behaviour is present on board other vessels in its northern fleet. As a first step, BC Ferries should determine whether cannabis is in use by crews of other vessels or whether it was isolated to the Queen of the North. This should include a review of the effectiveness of the company's policy on alcohol/drugs. The Board further encouraged BC Ferries to address the issue without delay.”

The TSB says that it will be monitoring the progress made by BC Ferries on the drugs issue and will be reporting on it in its final report into the sinking of the Queen of the North.

TSB give new meaning to "hotbox"

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:46 pm
by The Dieselduck
Hello TxMarEng,

Welcome to the new forum area of Sorry about the long delay in replying, been rather busy lately. I'm pasting the comments I made about this topic on The Monitor, our blog, after a similar post from JK.

In the US, they wont even offer to hire you unless you have a negative drug test result. Like most Canadians, I don't agree with that perspective, as it infringes on the civil liberties and privacy and is not the company's business. But I can certainly understand the concerns having been at sea long enough to know that that the TSB findings are not an isolated case. Personally I don't think the pot use I saw, is as much a concern as the coke use I have seen on occasion, now that to me is a concern.

Most companies have a convenient stated policy of zero tolerance for crew and premises, but really it is not entirely enforceable especially when it comes to pot. One of the skipper I was recently sailing with had a pretty good comment on the subject, which I think, is quite valid and should be applicable.

I will stand in line and get drug tested, I have many times in the past, and I am not afraid to do it again, but the person at the head of the line should be the CEO and anyone else in the decision making, process right on down to the lowly engineer on the boat. Whats good for the gander, has to be good for the goose.

Thursday, 18 October, 2007

JK further brought up a good concern on the timing of the findings,

"Now I realize that the wheels of TSB grind slowly, but this release from yesterday made me go Hmmm. A Board Concern that takes a year to release and concerns about possible cannabis use onboard by the crew on a Ferry. The same crew who is presumably manning another ship for the year it took for this Board Concern to be released.
Yet TSB wants BCFC to review their policy without delay?
I have to wonder how many meetings this took at TSB to get this Board Concern released."

Seems to me like the TSB was force to say something, but really the timing illustrate the public attitude, I think, of the revelation. Yeah, concerning, but no one is really jumping up or down in the public. In the US pot use although glamorized in the movies and tv shows, its really been put on the same pedestal as crack or heroin in the US. Not in Canada, and also not in many other countries.

Drugs and Alcohol

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:00 pm
by conrod
An interesting topic. Personally I dont like to mix the two !! Just stick to one or the other at a dont drink and drive; you spill to much !!

In an ABS publication " Marine Management and Ship Operation Guideline ISO 9002/ISM Code " (which is a publication used by many Companies when developing their SMS) a comparison is made between ISO Codes and the ISM. At clause 2. [b]Safety and Environmental Protection Policy[/b] a footnote adresses a Drug and Alcohol Policy. I think it is pretty fare to assume [i]any[/i] Company worth its salt, has a DnA Policy. Anyway, I digress. The last sentence of this note is .........[quote] Procedures should include suitable screening of personnel at the time of their employment as well as other methods necessary to maintain a substance free work place [/quote]..........

In the oil patch, it is not uncommon to undergo random DnA testing, breath tests prior to boarding helicopters, and this is just by the charterer. The individual boat Companies or sub-contractors have their own screening. My Company requires 2 yearly full blood work for DnA testing. They are looking for habitual use, not the odd spliff here and there, or a brew to many. Unfortunately in the oil patch we look at these things totally differently. Ironically you will never find a North American oil / drilling / boat company that is not dry. 90% of European outfits are similarly dry. The odd men out are usually Italian or French........!!!

As a Brit, growing up in traditional deep sea style with Blue Funnel, the bar was the nerve centre of the vessel. I still work for a - fundamentaly - British Company, only in the offshore sector. The general feeling is that we comply to the charter requirements...............take that at face value.

One could question the value of DRY at all costs, or .........being able to have a brew at knock off time, and being responsible. If you cant have it, you want it more (and usually to excess)............Exon Valdez ?? Been dry for 6 weeks, hit the beach, get plastered. Screw up !! Have a beer at 17:00, no big deal, get to port, maybe not go up the road. Sail sober.

As you rightly say Martin, the US like to put things on a pedestal, that [i]increases[/i] the a kid growing up in England, it was a real big thing to go and drink in the pub at lunch time whilst at school. Turn 18 and for the majority the novelty had worn off. The attraction was not the booze, but that it was illegal.

Quuen of the North

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:49 am
by TxMarEng
Just returned from an industry forum in Europe and the subject of Queen of the North arose. For the most part the community was highly surprised to see blatant open admission of drug use while at sea. I for one believe in the "civil liberties remain on the beach" when at sea policy. Seems to be a general decline in order and discipline in the industry today.

It's a shame to see BC Ferries bringing on new vessels and turning them over to "pot heads". I do agree with the policy of top to bottom including management and "union officials" submitting to random drug testing. I'm sure we'd all be surprised to see who would fail the whiz quizzes. Good thing they didn't build the in The Netherlands. At least the Germans still draw the line on drug use.

Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:08 pm
by JK
I talked to our DPA about drugs and drug testing. I was surprised at what he told me. In Canada, a persons privacy does not allow for drug testing. If the company's drug policy states they will provide some sort of rehab, then that is all is required.
It all sounded rather wishy-washy to me. It is hard enough to prove someone is drinking on watch, if they are canny enough, never mind drugs.

Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 7:53 pm
by conrod
I have heard similar comments from doctors on the West Coast, whom conduct Transport Canada Medical exams. It appears everything is a civil liberty. Dont check this or that, as mentioned, all very wishy washy.

Its one thing to stand up for your rights...............but lest we forget, we do work in an industry that requires a reasonable ammount of proffesional expertise. For some maybe that includes a toke here and there............or being overweight, unfit, etc etc.

I am pleased that the rules in the offshore industry do restrict the use of our " liberties ", because even without them, there are some real idiot's out there.............however, it can be said that the Company that employs them is just as much at fault !!!

Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:01 pm
by D Winsor
When it comes to Civil Liberties after a Marine Incident such as this "THINK AGAIN"
When it comes to the use of drugs and alchohol on ships the US Coast Guard has a very strict "Zero Tolerence" policy and after an incident in US waters drug and alchohol testing is mandatory for all involved!
Transport Canada and many companies have similar policies in place and civil liberties do not enter into the picture. In many cases posession of a controlled or banned substance will result in immediate dismissal.
This Policy has been accepted and endorsed by all the major shipping unions as well.