CITT says BC Towing Contract review required.

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) has responded to a complaint by Heiltsuk Horizon Maritime Services, recommending a review of a key performance requirement in the process to procure two emergency towing vessels for the protection of Canada’s West Coast.

As a bid participant, Heiltsuk Horizon – a partnership of majority partner Heiltsuk Nation of Bella Bella, British Columbia and Horizon Maritime Services Limited, registered a complaint last August that the winning supplier did not meet important safety requirements of the tender process.

I wrote about the issues with the towing contract in this Chronicle Herald Piece when the Atlantic Towing vessels headed west. Heiltsuk Horizon has not publicly disclosed the vessels they bid on the project, though based on other charters they were likely tidewater tugs.

In a letter to Heiltsuk Horizon, the Tribunal recommends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada reevaluate the “bollard pull” (towing power) of the vessels in all bids received and also awards Heiltsuk Horizon costs incurred in submitting the complaint.

“The contract was awarded in the absence of the required proof that the vessels met the mandated towing power,” said Chief Operating Officer Steven Widmeyer, Horizon Maritime Services Limited.  “We hope this recommendation leads to a reconsideration of our Heiltsuk Horizon vessels, which are in accordance with recommendations of the 2018 Emergency Towing Vessel Needs Assessment by the Clear Seas Center for Responsible Marine Shipping.”

The CITT letter recommends no further expenditures be made on the awarded contract until a review is complete and also lays out potential actions to be taken post-review, including cancellation of the existing contract.

The Heiltsuk Nation, currently in reconciliation discussions with Canada, teamed up with Horizon Maritime to form Heiltsuk Horizon, following the devastating Nathan E. Stewart oil spill in its territory in October 2016.

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