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Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Concordia visited many times over the years. and we are very sad at her loss and grateful that there was no loss of life.
Transportation board to probe sinking of Concordia
By BEVERLEY WARE Shore Shore Bureau

Thu. Mar 4 - 4:53 AM

BRIDGEWATER — Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigators are expected in Lunenburg this morning to delve into the sinking of SV Concordia off Brazil two weeks ago.
Ken Potter, the manager of marine investigation operations, said the board decided late Tuesday to conduct its own independent investigation into the capsizing and sinking of the Lunenburg-based sail training vessel.
He said no parents of students aboard the ship had contacted the board to pressure for an independent investigation.
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The Concordia was a floating classroom of West Island College’s Class Afloat, owned by a Canadian company and operating out of Lunenburg. It capsized and sank off the coast of Brazil on Feb. 17. All 64 students, teachers and crew were rescued after spending 40 hours in life-rafts.
The Barbados Maritime Ship Registry was carrying out the official investigation because that’s where the ship is registered. But Potter said the Canadian board had been collecting information and conducting interviews with staff since the ship sank and that information convinced the board that it needs to carry out its own review.
"An independent TSB investigation is warranted, particularly given the large number of Canadian students and staff," Potter said.
The board has put together a team of investigators that includes a naval architect and a specialist in sail training vessels. They will begin today by interviewing the captain, Bill Curry, and any officers on board at the time.
The investigation will then spread out to include students and staff.
Nigel McCarthy, president and chief executive officer of Class Afloat, said Wednesday afternoon the school had not been formally notified of the parallel investigation.
"That said, it is not unexpected that TSB might want to pursue this course of action," he said.

McCarthy said the school simply hopes investigators will continue to respect the students’ and parents’ need to prepare for resumption of classes next week.
"We are certain they will."
The board said in a news release one of the reasons it has decided to take on its own investigation is "because the scope and methodology used to uncover causes and contributing factors will likely be different than that of the Barbados authority."
The rules of the International Maritime Organization allow the board to be involved in the Barbadians’ investigation, which was happening, but the Barbados Maritime Ship Registry also allows for a parallel investigation by both the country where the ship is registered as well as where the sinking occurred.
The last time the board was involved in an investigation of this type was when Laura Gainey was swept overboard from the Picton Castle in December 2006. That ship is registered in the Cook Islands, which investigated, but the Canadian board made its own inquiries and forwarded its findings and recommendations to the owner of the Picton Castle and the Cook Islands.
As the board begins its investigation "we are casting our net fairly wide," Potter said, looking at such factors as the weather, the ship’s stability, crew training, Class Afloat and the search and rescue effort launched in Brazil.
"We will look at every facet."
That should determine whether there were safety deficiencies, what factors contributed to the sinking and why the ship sank.
"It will be a thorough report," Potter said.

Once it has gathered, assessed and analyzed all the information, the board will compile a draft report that will go to authorities in Barbados and to Class Afloat. They will be given a chance to comment and once that’s done, the board will issue its final report.
Potter stressed the board is not a regulator and can’t impose penalties if there were deficiencies. Its role is to advance safety, he said.

This is strictly for safety purposes; to determine the cause, contributing factors and develop recommendations or safety actions."

If the board concludes there were deficiencies, it will not wait for its final report to notify Class Afloat.
"If we do find any safety deficiencies, we will immediately communicate that to the person, the company or those in the best position to act," Potter said.
( bware@herald.ca)

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