The unraveling of the Queen of the North tragedy

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The unraveling of the Queen of the North tragedy



Oh, by-the-way, before we get started here, it was the First Nation's folk in the area who came out and rescued the primarily White people on board the sinking ferry.


And as well, by-the-way, BC Ferries fired the Captain because he was raising too many security issues. And that's the truth.


Crew member was knocked unconscious when Queen of the North ferry struck island

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

NorthReport wrote:

Oh, by-the-way, before we get started here, it was the First Nation's folk in the area who came out and rescued the primarily White people on board the sinking ferry.

Sorry that is not correct NR. The people of Hartley Bay did come out with boats and they opened their community and hearts to the people from the sinking ferry.  However except for the two people who disappeared the rest of the passengers were evacuated from the ferry into lifeboats by the crew.

The people of Hartley Bay were brave and generous in coming to help but the crew had already saved the passengers. Please do not detract from the brave actions of many of the crew in ensuring that the tragedy was not far worse.  The MSM might have no respect for the workers but I think we can do better.




The First Nations did nothing to help, sorry about that.


I don't know... Both times I took that ferry there were quite a few people getting on and off at Bella Bella. Seems to me it is an important transportation route for a lot of people on the coast, and Haida Gwaii. Considering the nature of the tragedy, and as k rightly points out, the efforts made by many to help others, this is a very odd tangent to go off on, IMO.


Evacuation and rescueFinal moments of the Queen of the NorthHartley Bay is located in British ColumbiaHartley BayLocation of Hartley Bay in British Columbia

A large number of small fishing and recreational vessels from Hartley Bay were the first on the scene to answer the distress call, arriving in a fleet of small watercraft in the dead of night to pick up survivors. Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria tasked Canadian Coast Guard vessels CCGS Sir Wilfrid LaurierCCGC Point HenryCCGS W.E. RickerCCGC Kitimat II and the CCGS Vector, along with 2 CH-149 Cormoranthelicopters and 1 CC-115 Buffalo aircraft from the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron at CFB Comox to the scene of the sinking.

Originally the evacuation of the ship was reported to be a smooth one; however, stories of chest high water and trapped crew members surfaced on March 24. According to the official BC Ferries press release, 99 of the 101 passengers and crew were safely evacuated with only a few minor injuries,[7] and many of them found refuge in nearby Hartley Bay.


kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

You missed the point NR.

Yes the people from Hartley Bay immediately went out in the stormy weather to help the distressed ferry.  They were brave generous and welcoming.  However when they arrived at the ferry the people were in lifeboats.  If they had not arrived there would have been no more deaths because the ship had already been evacuated. However the people in the boats would have spent a long night in cold boats in stormy weather.

There is room in this story for the whole truth which is that the FN responded with love and warmth and took the survivors into their community.  However the truth is also that this crew in its evacuation of the ferry performed to the highest standards and saved the lives of the passengers.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Here is a good description of the events after the ferry hit the island. Praise and admiration is owed both to the crew and the people of Hartley Bay


12:28 AM

Six miles to the northeast, in the aboriginal settlement of Hartley Bay, Bruce Reece was awakened by the ferry's Mayday, relayed by the Canadian Coast Guard station in Prince Rupert on the marine distress channel, which northern communities monitor around the clock. Within seconds, phones were ringing throughout the village of 200. Men ran to the dock for their trawlers and skiffs, while women began preparing food and hot drinks, collecting blankets and warm clothes and heading to the community center to await survivors.

Reece had just fired up his 21-ft. aluminum powerboat, Miss Ardell, and set off with seven other craft toward open water when he heard his mother's voice on the marine radio. "Leanne and Sandra are on the ship," she told him. He had forgotten that his niece and her daughter were traveling on the Queen. He revved his 250-hp engine and sped into the darkness.

12:30 AM

With the ship listing heavily to starboard, the crew directed confused passengers, some in pajamas, to the lifeboats. One woman, unaware of the collision, complained, "What a silly time to hold a fire drill!" Clarke recalls: "It was surreal, with the stark emergency lighting and the passengers in stunned silence, walking around barefoot in the rain."

In orderly fashion, the passengers descended Jacob's ladders into two wooden lifeboats and three inflatable rafts. Clarke boarded the last raft. Ten feet down, it stopped with a jerk. Fearful they would free-fall 55 ft. to the water below or smash against the hull, Clarke carefully moved to another seat to shift weight away from the vessel. A few seconds later, the lines began spooling through the pulleys, and the raft continued its descent.

Once the lifeboats were in the water, the captain ordered a crew member in each to do a head count. After several recounts, the totals were inconsistent. Nevertheless, the lifeboats motored to stand off 500 ft. from the Queen. Rain soaked the shivering crew and passengers, who huddled together as they bobbed in the dark in icy 3-ft. seas.

Seven minutes after leaving Hartley Bay, Reece saw a foggy, glowing light through the rain. "Even from that distance I could see the ferry was listing badly," he says. "It looked eerie. She was so familiar to us, and there she was--crippled on the rocks." Then he spotted the lifeboats rafted together, surrounded by ship debris. He approached slowly, shouting for his niece. At the third raft, she returned his call. Crowding Duncan, her daughter and six other people onto his boat, Reece roared back to Hartley Bay. The community's fire chief, Edward Robinson, circled the ferry with his speedboat, keeping 20 ft. away, shining his searchlight into the windows and across the deck as he looked for survivors. "Being so close to the ship was sad and scary at the same time," Robinson says. He saw no one.


I have not uttered one word against the crew members during the rescue efforts so give it a rest.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture


No you just spouted this MSM lie about the ferry tragedy.  According to the media the crew were incompetent the point that they were screwing on the bridge and they all had to be saved by others. 

Sorry NR but I will not give it a rest. Some of the crew on that fateful night were personal friends and I will defend them in any forum, especially in one that is defined as labour friendly.

North Report wrote:

Oh, by-the-way, before we get started here, it was the First Nation's folk in the area who came out and rescued the primarily White people on board the sinking ferry.




The crew were doing the job they were paid to do.

The Hartley Bay folks volunteered.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

North Report I thought you were a trade unionist.  The reason that this is back in the news again is because a worker is being charged with criminal negligence for his mistakes.  No company responsibility just a focus on the crew. Your opening post would make every ferry worker I know very upset. 

There were no people on board the ferry when the boats from Hartley Bay arrived.  That is not what you said and it is more than a minor point when talking about a marine accident. 

For your information this ended the careers of other workers because the trauma they experienced meant they could not back on board a ship in a time frame that the company thought was appropriate.  The double effect of not only the accident but the public vilification of the crew caused many of them to suffer from PTSD for extended periods.  At every turn they have heard the story of the incompetent crew and the brave people of Hartley Bay.  I for one will not be silent.

Crew members woke up in quarters that were below the waterline in water up to their knees when they alarms sounded.  They all mustered and kept the passengers calm and evacuated them.  That includes the grandmother with a dislocated shoulder who kept doing the job she was paid for until she was evacuated to a hospital.  I remember her telling me that she hardly remembers much after escaping from her flooded cabin except the pain of people using her shoulders to steady themselves as they were being evacuated. They did their jobs with distinction and don't deserve to be told that the people of Hartley Bay arrived and saved the people on board the ferry.

As for the people of Hartley Bay volunteering well they are a coastal community.  Every coastal community would have done the same thing on this coast and I suspect that goes for the other coasts as well.  Its just what coastal communities do. Remember that the radio is always monitored for vessels in distress. This is an isolated fishing community and like all good mariners they would never hesitate before heading out in rough seas to rescue people. 



Do we even know for sure that 2 people died?

There were reports, although never verefied, that they were seen on land following the sinking, although I understand their respective families never heard from them after the incident.

But their bodies apparently were never found - who were they and what was their relationship to each other?


Tracking the Queen of the North Sea Disaster:

What Went WrongFor half a century British Columbia ferries had safely navigated the province’s ragged coast. All it took to sink a ship with 101 souls onboard was one 14-minute distraction.


This is getting quite tiresome. I have cast no aspersions on any of the crew members. As a matter of fact their behaviour during the rescue operation, by all accounts, was rather exemplary, so get off your high horse and find some other axe to grind.


The Spirit of Hartley Bay's People

The little village that saved the ferry passengers honoured by People's Order of BC. 

Edward Robinson was getting ready for bed at 12:25 a.m. when he learned the Queen of the North was sinking. He turned on the radio traffic channel that marine vessels use to report in on, and was told to stand by. When the mayday call came, Robinson switched to channel six and put out the call to all available guards for help. Around 20 men from Hartley Bay quickly reported down at the docks, packed into a fleet of speedboats and gillnetters, and sped off towards the plunging ferry.

It was a windy night, he recalls.

"I guess it was coming in what we mariners know as squalls. It wasn't a steady wind -- it would blow hard and just quit for a few minutes, then come again. When we headed out, there was a little bit of waves when we were leaving our dock, but as we got closer to where the Queen of the North was going down, it got calm."

He'd spend the next 16 hours on the water bringing survivors from the ferry's lifeboats back to shore, and then manning a perimeter, looking for the lost.

On March 22, 2006, the night the Queen of the North struck Gil Island and sank,all but two -- Shirley Rosette and Gerald Foisy of 100 Mile House -- were safely returned to shore, to Hartley Bay's cultural centre. There Mona Danes and other volunteers received ferry passengers. T


Fuel a concern

When the ship sank, people from the nearby First Nations community of Hartley Bay took to their fishing boats in the dark to pick up the survivors. The ship took an hour to sink, so the crew and passengers had time to get into the lifeboats.

A year later, some residents of the community want BC Ferries to pump out the 200,000 litres of fuel in the ship, which is sitting upright on the ocean floor in about 400 metres of water.

If the tanks rupture, it would be an environmental disaster, said Gitga'at Nation councillor Cam Hill. The technology exists to get the fuel out, he said.

But Hahn disagrees.

"The worst thing you can do is go down there and try and extract it and cause a bigger issue," he said.

Graeme Clark was on the ship the night it sank.

He woke up to a jarring thud. "My first impression was that we had broken a propeller shaft. But then when the second impact came, it was a long, tearing grinding sound, I knew that wasn't the case, I knew we had hit something."

As the Queen rolled on to its side, Clark realized it was going to sink. "I took my time, I felt it was going to be a long night."

Other passengers were indignant or bemused, but as they realized the extent of the danger, "they were suddenly very focused and paying attention to what the crew had to say," Clark said.

As the passengers floated in lifeboats, they heard the death throes of the ship. Tractor-trailers broke from their restraining chains and tumbled toward the stern as the bow lifted, creating great crashing sounds. The air rushing out of the ship caused more noise, Clark recalled.

"And then there was complete silence. Nobody was saying anything. There had been a great din, and now there was silence."





Queen of the North ferry wasn't staffed according to federal regulations, trial hears


Queen of the North: Ship officer testifies Karl Lilgert said he was giving another boat some room

Read more:


What's coming - a mistrail?

Why does it take so long to get a case to trail?

Second juror dismissed from Queen of the North trial Judge says juror discharged for personal reasons


This is pretty damaging testimony.


Negligence behind sinking of Queen of the North: expert mariner



So let me get this straight.

The BC Liberals paid David Hahn, their useless USA CEO of BC Ferries, millions of dollars in wages and perks, meanwhile BC Ferries would not pay to have the proper number of staff on the bridge operating our Ferries.  

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I think I'll wait for all the witnesses before I jump to conclusions.  This is a prosecution witness and the defence will be presenting its case after the Crown is done.  The ship had new electronic navigation installed just a few weeks before hand and the woman subbing up who was on the bridge told the Captain that she did not fell comfortable with it but she was pressured to sub up into the position.  Then there is the matter of the squall that went through the area just before the accident.

There is lots more to come but the MSM is quick to blame the workers.  At least now they are only mentioning that the two officers on the bridge had been dating, something that is totally irrelevant to the case.  When it happened most of the media and the CBC in particular kept repeating the lie that they were having sex on the bridge.