Canadian authorities reject Barbados investigation of Concordia sinking

“But don’t expect the Barbadians to find fault. Three years ago, Barbados Maritime Ship Registry (BMSR) issued new guidelines for investigators of marine accidents. As the BMSR announced, the guidelines were introduced “to ensure that general marine investigations conducted on behalf of a flag state are focused on understanding the cause of an incident rather than simply apportioning blame. BMSR Principal Registrar Chris Sawyer believes that the culture of blame has become too prevalent in marine casualty investigations.

BMSR championed the priority of “learning from accidents.” While that is a fine goal, we tend to learn plenty when we figure out who if anyone is responsible for serious incidents like the Concordia’s loss. Too often in modern tragedies involving sailing ships, blame has been fobbed off on an act of God, with formal inquiries absolving ships, crews and owners of any responsibility, even when there is ample evidence of poor design, poor seamanship and other deficiencies.”

… from the National Post newspaper article The problem with flags of convenience

…the Transportation Safety Board of Canada decided to conduct a parallel investigation into this accident independently of the Barbadian investigation. The TSB made the decision to investigate because the scope and methodology used to uncover causes and contributing factors will likely be different than that of the Barbados authority. Meanwhile, in accordance with the provisions of international conventions, the TSB remains committed to providing assistance to the Barbados authority as it proceeds with its investigation.

… from a media release by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The Canadians shouldn’t be so smug & self-righteous

Let’s get one thing straight: the Canadians have a right to investigate whatever they please. After all, the Concordia was based in Canada, owned by a Canadian school and the majority of people on board were Canadians. The Canadians can make any inquiries they wish.

But Barbados has a duty in law to investigate the sinking of a Barbados-flagged vessel and our country shall investigate professionally according to our standards.

The Canadian authorities were happy enough to allow a Bajan “flag of convenience” on a vessel based in their country, so they might want to be a little careful criticizing Barbados now.

Even Canada’s former Prime Minister Paul Martin has his commercial cargo ships headquarters in Barbados!

As to standards for the sailing vessel Concordia, she was built for the Canadians in Poland, first registered in the Bahamas and then in Barbados. The Canadian authorities inspected her last year to allow the vessel to participate in a tall ship rally in Canada.

Online conversations we’ve read at various tallship sailing forums describe the confusion, lapses and conflicts over stability standards for sailing school ships. From what I’ve seen Canada doesn’t even have any construction or stability standards for tall ships so the Canadian authorities should drop their self-righteousness and disdain for Barbados that is inherent in their press release.

Further Reading

BFP Feb 20, 2010: Barbados will lead investigation into sinking of sailing vessel Concordia

BFP Feb 21, 2010: Barbados Maritime Ship Registry to investigate rescue delay of Concordia Survivors

It also turns out that Wojtek (Voytec) Wacowski, a crew member of the Tall Ship Amistad that visited Barbados in 2008, previously served as Chief Mate on the Concordia…

BFP April 14, 2008: Amistad Official Website Features Barbados Free Press Article


Filed under Barbados, Disaster

3 responses to “Canadian authorities reject Barbados investigation of Concordia sinking

  1. Sargeant

    Hey BFP

    I don’t see anything in the news release inherently critical of any investigation that Barbados decides to undertake. It states “The TSB made the decision to investigate because the scope and methodology used to uncover causes and contributing factors will likely be different than that of the Barbados authority”

    That is a fact isn’t it? As the article states BMSR is not even located in Barbados and the TSB has had to undertake many investigations over the years in Canada and they have the experience and the knowhow. By contrast you have been castigating this and the previous Gov’t over their failure to call an inquiry into the apartment building collapse and now you expect the Gov’t to take the lead in this investigation. Has there been an announcement by the Barbados Gov’t or BMSR that they will investigate the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the vessel? I think that the Gov’t was just hoping that someone will take the lead in this process after all no Barbadian citizens were at risk and an investigation of this sort will cost money that the country can ill afford to spend.

    Which is worse the Canadians for having vessels registered in Barbados under “Flags of Convenience” or Barbados for having laws which makes it easy to accomplish? I suspect it is beneficial for both parties.

    Your statement is classic “But Barbados has a duty in law to investigate the sinking of a Barbados-flagged vessel and our country shall investigate professionally according to our standards.”

    Wake me up when the Barbados investigation starts.

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  3. Captain H.E.Adams

    I am also curious why the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB)wants to investigate the loss of the Concordia. After all the vessel was registerd in Barbados for a number of reasons of convenience. Probaly though, the number one reason was to save money, eg taxes and wages. The vessel being registerd outside Canada most likely had other advantages such as hiring crew with dubviious qualifications and passports. Clearly one can see the advantages of having to comply with Canadian Certification when running a training ship wortld wide.

    I have to question the honesty and integrety of official from the (TSB) because they are fully aware why the vessel was regisered in Barbados. The reality is the TSB can waste time and money carrying out an investigation, however nothing will change because the Canadian Government condones the registry of Canadian owned vesels in foreign countries. The following are some Canadian ship owners that register their vessel out side Canada. Don’t get me wrong; the ship owners are not bad people, just that the Candadian Government prefers it that way.

    Canada Shipping Line
    Irving Oil Ltd
    Secunda Marine
    Marine Atlantic
    Canadian Pacific


    Captain Harvey Adams