Defence raises equipment, training as issues at trial in fatal ferry sinking

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - The defence for a man on trial in a fatal ferry sinking off the B.C. coast is raising questions about the training and equipment used on the ship, including a chart system that crew members referred to as a "box of lies."

Karl Lilgert is charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing death for his role in the sinking of the Queen of the North in March of 2006, in which two passengers are presumed drowned.

One of his lawyers, Nancy Adams, is raising several alleged problems with BC Ferries' equipment in an effort to show Lilgert was not to blame for the disaster.

In particular, Adams says crew members complained that the ship's electronic chart system was too bright to be seen in the dark and some crew referred to it as a "box of lies" — a reference to defence claims that the chart was often inaccurate.

In cross examining veteran BC Ferries officer Ross Bowen, she also raised questions about the level of training crew members received on new equipment, particularly after upgrades to the ship's navigation system that were completed just weeks before the crash.

Bowen, who's worked with BC Ferries for more than 30 years, says there was no formal training policy to ensure crew were kept up to speed on new equipment, but he says crew would learn to use new equipment while they were sailing.