Concordia training ship sinks off Brazil

Apr 26, 2010

Concordia, a Canadian sail-training vessel, sank about 300 nm off the coast of Brazil in February. The 188-foot steel hulled Concordia sank with 48 students and 16 crew and instructors aboard after what the ship's captain William Curry described as a microburst hit the tall ship off Rio de Janeiro. The captain told the Associated Press that he was below deck when the ship suddenly heeled over and then recovered. A few moments later the ship was  knocked down again, this time failing to right itself. Within 30 minutes the ship was submerged. The EPIRB was deployed along with the five life rafts and all students and crew safely abandoned ship.

Concordia's EPIRB signal was received by the Brazilian navy which directed  Hokuetsu Delight, a nearby Philippine-flagged merchant ship to the scene. Twenty hours later Hokuetsu Delight located the students and crew in the five life boats. They took most of the survivors aboard and the rest were picked up by Crystal Pioneer, another nearby merchant ship. The Brazilian naval frigate, Constituicao, arrived on scene to transfer the students and crew from the two merchant ships, but rough weather prevented the transfer and the merchant ships diverted to Rio de Janeiro with the survivors.

Concordia, which served as a floating classroom for Class Afloat, an at-sea study program developed by West Island College in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, was built in Poland in 1992 and was registered in Barbados. The primary investigation into the cause of the accident is being carried out by the Barbados Maritime Ship Registry. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has begun a parallel investigation into the cause of the 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."

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