NAME Director comments on tragic whale-watching accident

Leviathan II. Photo credit: CBC news

Leviathan II. Photo credit: CBC news

We are deeply saddened by the tragic capsizing of the Leviathan II, which went down near Tofino, BC, last Sunday, killing five people and leaving one missing. In an article by the Globe and Mail and a segment by CBC, Professor Jon Mikkelsen, Director of NAME, comments on possible causes of the tragedy and what needs to happen going forward “to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

“I think what will come out of this is whether or not the requirements or regulations (on ship stability) need to be looked at once again,” Mikkelsen told the Globe and Mail. “An annual inspection would be excessive,” he added to CBC, “but a periodic stability assessment, especially for passenger-carrying vessels like this one… should be considered.”

The Leviathan II was originally built as a crew boat and was later converted to a whale-watching vessel with the addition of an observation deck. Although stability assessments were done at the time of it’s modification, Mikkelsen questions whether the crew boat was a “good candidate for conversion to a tour boat” that would have many people up on the observation deck at once. He speculates that it was likely a sequence of small events–many people on the observation deck, leaning to one side to see a particular sight; a slightly larger wave at that moment hitting the side of the boat or washing over the deck; or even fuel “sloshing about” in tanks–that together contributed to the accident.

To read the rest of Prof. Mikkelsen’s comments or for more information, see the original articles from The Globe and Mail and CBC News.