Report on Collision Death off Pt. Reyes

Monday, December 15, 2008

On Dec. 10, the U.S. Coast Guard released the results of two investigations. One report outlines the causes of the July 13, 2007 fatal collision between a cargo ship and a small fishing boat which occurred in heavy fog off Pt. Reyes, and the other is an internal review of the service's handling of the incident.

The incident involved the 291 ft motor vessel Eva Danielsen, a Bahamian-flagged cargo ship, and a 28 ft wooden fishing vessel, the Buona Madre, home ported in Santa Cruz, California. A collision between the two vessels resulted in the destruction of the fishing boat and the death of Mr. Paul Wade.

A Coast Guard Marine Casualty Investigation, which was conducted by San Francisco-based investigators and reviewed and released from Coast Guard headquarters in Washington D.C., found numerous factors contributing to the cause of the collision including: failure to ensure proper manning of the respective vessels in light of the prevailing weather conditions (heavy fog); and the freighter proceeding at an unsafe speed based upon the weather conditions, failing to follow applicable Navigational Rules of the Road (i.e., fog signals), and negligence with respect to the operation of the vessel.

An internal administrative investigation was also conducted by the 11th Coast Guard District to evaluate how Coast Guard policies and procedures were followed. The internal investigation found that some internal briefing requirements and communications processes were not followed. Several recommendations of the report have been adopted to improve management of communications among Coast Guard units including: Revision of Command Center Standard Operating Procedures to include recent CG policy changes; review and revision of all Quick Response Sheets (QRS) to ensure proper notifications are made in a timely fashion; Introduction of Search and Rescue fundamentals in the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) training program; and cross training among various watch positions in the Coast Guard Sector Command Center and VTS.

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