Near-collision between Halifax charter boat, cruise ship prompts safety equipment investment
A charter boat that nearly collided with a much larger cruise ship last summer in Halifax Harbour has prompted the vessel’s operator to make a significant safety investment.
An Ambassatours tour boat had 39 passengers onboard when it came close to Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas, which was carrying 3,000 people.
Ambassatours admits its captain should have taken a different course.
“The two vessels came relatively close to each other,” said Dannis Campbell, Ambassatours CEO. “It was still in the vicinity of between 150 to 200 feet away from each other.”
That was close enough for the cruise ship captain to report a close-quarters situation to Canadian authorities.
The Nova Scotia Transportation and Safety Board is investigating. Its website states the incident took place in thick fog in the approaches to Halifax Harbour on the morning of June 29.
While the investigation is still underway, Ambassatours says it “takes safety very seriously and wants to avoid a similar situation in the future.”
Transportation and safety officials recommended investing in better navigational technology, and they've done that.
“It's a significant investment, but it allows us to get more information than we can get from radar,” said Campbell.
His company has spent $70,000 installing automatic tracking systems on 14 passenger vessels. The information will tell them where cruise ships are.
The Port of Halifax says the harbour is getting busier. This year, 179 cruise ships are expected from April to October.
“On top of that, we are seeing larger container ships calling as well,” said Lane Farguson of the Port of Halifax.
Officials with the port are waiting for the results of the investigation, but say the industry is regulated by international standards meant to prevent collisions.
“The findings will be posted to the TSB website. At that time we will move forward with our port users and stakeholders as required,” said Farguson.
In this case, the tour company says the Transportation Safety Board didn’t recommend the captain of the Summer Bay be removed, and adds that since the incident all of their captains have received additional training.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelland Sundahl.