I have been a mariner on the B.C. coast since 1973.
In that time, I have operated fishing vessels, charter vessels, coastal freight vessels, and tugboats. I have spent many days towing barges, commercial fishing or just transitting the waters from Kitimat, around Gil Island and out to Hecate Strait.
I am very concerned that any decision to transit a route from Kitimat to the Hecate Strait by oil tanker would be a grave mistake.
These ships are much larger than the deep-sea ships that currently travel from Kitimat. When loaded or in ballast, their draft can reach close to 100 feet. In an emergency stop, they take three kilometres or more to come to a stop.
Any route from Kitimat to Hecate Strait would have to pass on one side of Gil Island or the other.
These passages are very narrow for a ship like this and there are sharp corners of 90 degrees or more, that even in ideal conditions would be difficult. I know from experience that assist tugs have a very limited amount of effect in controlling a ship of this size.
With any strong currents or bad weather, prevalent in that area, not to mention a mechanical failure, it is a recipe for disaster.
I recommend that further research be done to find a more acceptable route with fewer risks, if, indeed the project is to go ahead.