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San Diego Boat Collision: Coast Guard Final Report

February 1, 2013

A Coast Guard boat operator failed to drive his boat consistent with standard navigation and operating procedures.

The boat collision that killed an 8-year-old boy and injured 10 other boaters, on Dec. 20, 2009, ocurred during the San Diego Parade of Lights in San Diego Harbor, according to the Coast Guard final action memo.

A Coast Guard 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement boat was responding to a report of a grounded sailing vessel in the harbor when it collided with a 24-foot Sea Ray recreational boat carrying 13 people in San Diego Harbor.

The memo  also outlined three additional contributing factors, including failure of the Coast Guard crew to perform their duties, failure of the crew to follow standard risk management practices and a poor command climate at Coast Guard Station San Diego.

As a result, the memo  directs five actions including a review of existing risk management policy and adding case studies to the service’s command cadre and boat operator training curriculum to ensure lessons learned from the collision are engrained in students to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.

Three Coast Guardsmen aboard the small boat were tried by court martial and found guilty of violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The boat driver was found guilty of dereliction of duty, May 23, 2011, reduced in rank and sentenced to three months in the U.S. Naval Brig, Miramar, Calif. The other two crewmembers were also found guilty of dereliction of duty and received punishment ranging from 30 days confinement to quarters and forfeiture of rank and pay, to a letter of reprimand.



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