BELLA BELLA, B.C. - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board says the second mate of a tugboat fell asleep before it ran aground off the coast of British Columbia last year and spilled thousands of litres of fuel.
The American safety agency says records show the second mate relieved the captain of watch duty and missed a scheduled change of course for the Nathan E. Stewart before the articulated tug and barge crashed near Bella Bella on Oct. 13, 2016.
The board's report dated Nov. 21 says the second mate told investigators he missed the change of course because he had fallen asleep, which it says is the probable cause of the vessel running aground.
The vessel owned by Houston-based Kirby Offshore Marine was en route to the Port of Vancouver with an empty barge when it ran aground and partially sank in the Seaforth Channel.
More than 107,000 litres of diesel and 2,240 litres of lubricants, including gear, hydraulic and lube oils, were released into the Pacific Ocean from the 30-metre vessel.
The safety board says a contributing factor to the crash was also the ineffective implementation of Kirby's safety management procedures.