Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Officers like Accused Had Responsibility to Make Sure They Knew the Ship: Trial

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Officers like Accused Had Responsibility to Make Sure They Knew the Ship: Trial

Article excerpt

Up to officers to learn ferry changes: trial


VANCOUVER - The officers aboard a ferry that sank off the coast of northern British Columbia seven years ago were expected to ensure they were familiar with the ship and its equipment, especially when that equipment changed, a crew member's criminal negligence trial heard Wednesday.

Karl Lilgert is on trial for criminal negligence causing the deaths of two passengers when the Queen of the North struck an island and sank on March 22, 2006.

His lawyers have suggested Lilgert, who was filling in as fourth officer during that fatal voyage, was saddled with unreliable equipment and poor training about recent upgrades to the ship's autopilot and steering systems. The autopilot upgrades required changes to procedures on the bridge.

Don Frandsen, who wasn't aboard the Queen of the North the night it sank but was the ship's senior captain, conceded it was ultimately the responsibility of either the on-duty captain or the first officer to train the crew on new equipment and procedures.

But he said he expected the officers to be proactive when it came to ensuring they were comfortable with the ship's equipment and to ask for help if they needed it.

The ship's crew is divided into two groups, each working for two weeks at a time. Lilgert's crew took over the ship in Prince Rupert on March 15, 2006, but didn't sail until the following day.

"What would you expect the officers to be doing during that time when on ship but not underway?" asked Crown counsel Caroline Richardson.

"They would get the ship ready for the upcoming sailings by getting paperwork done, familiarizing themselves with any new bulletins or specific things that need to be done for preparing to sail the next day," Frandsen replied.

"And what about familiarizing themselves with any new equipment?" asked Richardson.

"Absolutely," said Frandsen.

The recent upgrades included a new radar system and a new switch to turn on the autopilot system.

The trial has heard that the radar system was nearly identical to another unit already on the ship and didn't require new training.

The new autopilot switch, on the other hand, required a completely new procedure to activate and deactivate the autopilot system. …

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