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UPDATED: TSB investigating MV Apollo

The MV Apollo will be used for the Baie Comeau to Matane ferry run for the next little while.
The TSB was called in when the MV Apollo struck the dock in Quebec recently but has since expanded the scope of their investigation to cover the time it was in service in this province. - SaltWire File Photo

Transport Canada says boat inspected seven times since April 2018

A ferry that took people across the Strait of Belle Isle for many years is now the subject of a Transportation Service Board of Canada investigation.

The TSB was called in when the MV Apollo struck a dock in Quebec recently, but has since expanded the scope of their investigation to cover the time it was in service in this province.

The TSB confirmed to SaltWire Network that they were looking into recent years of the ship’s operation but would not comment further, saying it has now entered the investigation phase.

The ferry was sold to Societe des traversiers du Quebec in January for $2.1 million. Prior to that, the ferry ran the Strait of Belle Isle run from St. Barbe, N.L. to Blanc Sablon, Que.

Francois Dumont, a TSB investigator, told The Canadian Press in an interview they saw damage that was “clearly not recent,” which raised concerns about its operation as a ferry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We’re definitely going to look at the fact that it’s not damage that’s happened recently,” Dumont told CP. “This is long-term deterioration. This boat was clearly unloved, it lacked supervision and maintenance. We are going to dig, over the coming weeks, to find the reason why this boat was sailing between St. Barbe, N.L. and Blanc Sablon in Quebec.”

SaltWire contacted Transport Canada (TC), the federal body that inspects commercial ferries, and was told the vessel had been inspected seven times since April 2018.

A statement from TC said a vessel like this would normally be inspected once a year but the extra inspections were “in recognition of the importance of passenger ferry services and the urgent need for the Government of Quebec to maintain a safe ferry service.”

According to the statement from TC, the Apollo was inspected by Bureau Veritas, an international certification agency used by TC, in April 2018. At that time all issues identified were resolved. Six months later, in October, TC inspected the boat and there were no significant issues found.

When the boat was sold in January, two inspections were done. One on Jan. 21 gave the Apollo a certificate valid only for a single run, without passengers, to Matane Que. Nine days later it was inspected by Bureau Veritas and the inspection identified issues that had to fixed before the boat went back into service. Less than two weeks later, TC monitored an inspection and found 18 issues that had to be resolved.

The boat hit a dock twice in Quebec at the end of February and beginning of March and, according to TC, only when necessary repairs were completed did they allow the vessel to return to service.

A final inspection was done on March 20 and other than the damage from the collision, no new or significant safety risks were identified.

TC said in the statement that a vessel owner is responsible at all times for all aspects of the vessel and its operations as specified in the Canada Shipping Act

The owner must ensure the vessel meets all regulatory requirements; develop and implement a range of procedures to ensure the safety of the vessel, its passengers and crew; report all deficiencies, incidents and accidents; ensure the appropriateness of the vessel for its intended use; and ensure the qualifications and training of the crew.

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