Thursday, March 26, 2009

BC Ferries reinstates Captain of the ill fated Queen of the North

"WorkSafeBC has issued an order that BC Ferries must reinstate the captain for the Queen of the North. BC Ferries does respect the decision of WorkSafeBC and we will be reinstating that individual shortly,"-- BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall, responding to a Worksafe BC order.

BC Ferries has accepted the decision of Worksafe BC and reinstated Capt. Colin Henthorne to active duty, three years after the sinking of the Queen of the North in March of 2006.

He was dismissed from his duties on on April 15, 2008 — just over two years after the sinking of the Queen of the North, Worksafe BC ruled that his dismissal was “not directly related to the sinking of the Queen of the North.” A WorkSafe BC inspection report went on to conclude that Henthorne was discriminated against after he voiced concerns about health and safety.

Captain Henthorne was off duty and asleep in his cabin at the time of the Queen of the North tragedy, having left control of the vessel in the hands of junior officers on the night of March 22, a move that is not uncommon on BC Ferry sailings.

It was in the early morning hours that the vessel was put aground on Gil Island and sank shortly thereafter, resulting in the loss of two lives. A follow up inquiry by BC Ferries provided a report which blamed human error for the accident and singled out three other crew members for the string of events that led to the sinking of the Queen of the North.

With his reinstatement expected by May 25th, BC Ferries will now have to negotiate an agreement on compensation it owes for lost wages, benefits and interest since April 15, 2008.

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