Figure 5: Marine occurrences

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Reported Accidents 391.00 359.00 318.00 290.00 323.00 301.00
Reported Incidents (mandatory) 216.00 202.00 193.00 247.00 709.00 746.00
Voluntary Reporting 36.00 30.00 38.00 25.00 59.00 83.00

Accident rate

One indicator of marine transportation safety in Canada is shipping accident rates for Canadianflag commercial vessels (Figure 6). According to information provided by TC, marine activity for Canadian commercial non-fishing vessels over 15 gross tons (GRT) (excluding passenger vessels and cruise ships) increased by 7% from the 2009–2013 average. The 2014 accident rate was 3.7 accidents per 1000 movements, down from the five-year average of 3.8. Marine activity for foreign commercial non-fishing vessels increased by 4.8% from the 2009–2013 average, while the accident rate decreased to 1.5 accidents per 1000 movements from the five-year average of 1.8.

Figure 6: Canadian-flag shipping accident rate

Accidents per 1,000 vessel movements
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Accident Rate 3.40 3.50 4.30 5.20 4.70 3.80 3.90 3.10 3.60 3.70
Vessel movements for 2012, 2013 and 2014 are estimated (Source: Transport Canada)

In 2014–2015, 12 marine investigations were started, and 12 were completed.


In 2014–2015, 12 marine investigations were started, and 12 were completed. On average, investigations were completed within 435 days, an improvement from the 2013–2014 average of 458 and from the previous five-year average of 505.

Table 3: Marine Investigations at a glance

2009–2010 2010–2011 2011–2012 2012–2013 2013–2014 2014–2015
Investigations started 12 6 9 12 12 12
Investigations completed 9 8 7 10 13 12
Average number
of days to complete
530 530 504 522 458 435
Recommendations 1 0 2 0 0 0
Safety advisories 7 5 8 5 6 6
Safety information letters 9 6 6 6 7 12

Recommendations and progress

No marine safety recommendations were issued in 2014–2015. However, the Board reassessed responses to 12 active recommendations. Following the Board reassessments, the ratings were as follows: one Fully Satisfactory, four Satisfactory Intent, one Satisfactory in Part, and six Unsatisfactory. The Unsatisfactory reassessments were due, for the most part, to TC not having finalized the Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations.

While the results of these reassessments represent an improvement in the marine sector, key recommendations that could enhance safety across the marine industry remain outstanding, specifically the recommendations that the Board has made about fishing vessel safety and safety management systems (SMS).

Another 11 older recommendations also remain outstanding and will be reassessed once updated information is received from stakeholders, including provincial legislative bodies, Canadian port and pilotage authorities, the Canadian Coast Guard, and TC.

Marine highlights

Twelve marine investigations were concluded in 2014–2015. Some accidents related to Watchlist issues, and a number of occurrences involving passenger vessels (ferries and tour boats) have led the Board to the conclusion that TC enforcement of the amended Fire and Boat Drills Regulations is not leading to adequate compliance with regulations as they pertain to passenger safety.

Safety Management Systems (Watchlist)

The TSB has repeatedly emphasized the advantages of Safety Management Systems (SMS) as a framework within which a transportation company may manage safety risks in its operations, such as the risk to passengers’ safety in an emergency. Of the three investigations described below, the operating company of the Louis Jolliet was not required by TC to implement an SMS and nor had they done so. Although the operators of the Jiimaan and the Princess of Acadia had implemented SMS on a voluntary basis, third-party audits and inspections were ineffective at ensuring that fundamental safety procedures, such as those pertaining to passenger safety, had been effectively implemented.

The findings of these three investigations are indicative of the key factors in moving forward on the issue of safety management and oversight as identified in the TSB’s 2014 Watchlist: a clear regulatory framework requiring companies to implement some form of safety management processes that are effective in identifying hazards and mitigating risks; and balanced regulatory oversight.

Passenger safety on Canadian vessels – Jiimaan (M12C0058)

In its investigation into the grounding of the passenger ferry Jiimaan on 11 October 2012, the Board found that the vessel’s muster list and evacuation procedures did not contain the specific measures called for by the amended regulations and that the crew did not practise their passenger management duties in a realistic way. As a result of that investigation, the Board issued a safety concern stating that if TC inspectors do not assess muster lists and evacuation plans for compliance and adequacy, and if TC does not provide interpretive guidelines, compliance with passenger safety regulations may be inadequate, thereby negating the potential safety benefits of such regulations.

Two further investigations illustrate how the issues persist.

Passenger safety on Canadian vessels – Louis Jolliet (M13L0067)

On 16 May 2013, while on a cruise with 57 passengers on board, the passenger vessel Louis Jolliet ran aground off Sainte-Pétronille, Île d’Orléans, Quebec. The passengers and some crew members were evacuated, the vessel sustained minor damage, and was refloated at high tide. There were no injuries or pollution reported.

In examining the events following the grounding, the investigation determined that key crew members were not familiar with their emergency duties. The investigation also determined that the emergency procedures in place for the vessel had shortcomings with respect to passenger safety management, and crew members had not practised procedures in a realistic way. Although the task of securing the safety of the passengers was accomplished on the day of the occurrence, the Louis Jolliet can carry up to 1000 passengers, highlighting the need for comprehensive and detailed procedures, training, and drills in passenger safety management. The investigation also highlighted the need for effective oversight of passenger safety by TC.

Passenger safety on Canadian vessels – Princess of Acadia (M13M0287)

The Princess of Acadia was approaching the ferry terminal at Digby, Nova Scotia, on 07 November 2013, with 87 passengers and crew aboard. In preparation for docking, as the bow thruster was started, the main generator blacked out, causing a loss of electrical power and disabling the main propeller pitch control pumps. Once the pitch control pumps stopped, the propeller thrust defaulted toward full astern while the engines were still running, causing the vessel to slow down, stop and travel backwards towards the nearby shoreline until running aground. There were no injuries or pollution reported.

During the course of the investigation, deficiencies were discovered with respect to passenger-related duties, written evacuation procedures, and TC’s oversight to ensure compliance with regulations regarding passenger safety emergency procedures.

These three investigations illustrate that not enough has been done by TC to enforce regulations that are in place and to ensure that both operators and inspectors clearly understand the requirements that are intended to ensure that crews are able to manage passengers safely in an emergency.