A few short hours ago, I was advised of the sinking of one of the ships of the British Columbia Ferry fleet. The "Queen Of The North" had apparently run aground, south of Prince Rupert on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Thankfully, all 99 passengers, plus crew are safe and accounted for.
These people are safe for two chief reasons. Firstly, the expert and professional approach by the crew in the handling of the emergency, and secondly, the close proximity of the ship "Sir Wilfred Laurier" of The Canadian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Ship was on the scene in less than one hour, and was assisted by local commercial fish boats. Survivors were picked up by the coast guard from lifeboats, and transported to the small Native fishing community of Hartley Bay.
It is extremely sad when it takes a human emergency to get the attention of all levels of government. In this instance, the provincial government has not been acting with expedience in the replacing of certain existing ferries. Technology has changed dramatically in the ship building industry, and many of the ferries in the fleet are more than forty years old. This particular ship was constructed with a single compartment, which means when the hull ruptured, the complete inner cargo area and engine compartments were able to fill up very quickly with water. In a modern constructed ferry with multi independent compartments, only the compartment that was violated would flood, and thus, the ship would not sink.
As well, the federal government should learn a very valuable lesson here. A few years ago they carved the Coast Guard into near oblivion. They closed coast guard bases which forced a vast labor shortage. They also closed many of the manned lighthouse posts, and there was no money made available for new technology and equipment.
I do not pretend to offer the reason why this tragedy occured. I will leave that to those a lot more qualified than myself. The one thing that I do know however, governments always tell us after the fact that they have the situation in hand. Try selling that idea to someone sitting out there in the freezing cold in a lifeboat in the wee hours of the morning.