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Investigations Launched Into Coast Guard Cutter’s Collision With Fishing Vessel

01 Oct 2014

A series of formal investigations have been launched into the collision involving a 110-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a small fishing vessel off the coast of Puerto Rico.

Three separate investigations have been initiated and will review different aspects of the collision between the Coast Guard cutter Key Largo and a U.S. Virgin Island fishing vessel named Sea Shepherd. The incident occurred at 6:38 a.m on September 23, just east of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. No one was injured, but the Sea Shepherd sank after the collision. Two people onboard the Sea Shepherd were subsequently picked up by the USCGC Key Largo.

The three ongoing investigations reviewing the incident are briefly described as:

  • A Marine Casualty Investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of accidents and identifying safety recommendations which will prevent similar events in the future. Coast Guard investigators will assist the NTSB team.
  • A Safety Analysis Investigation directed by Coast Guard headquarters to identify causal factors leading up to the mishap. This non-punitive preventative safety investigation is designed to improve risk-mitigation and identify organization and systematic changes to reduce mishaps.
  • An Administrative Investigation convened by the Seventh District Commander to determine accountability, assist in assessing financial claims against the Coast Guard, and identify other non-safety related issues.

“Though they’ll be looking into the same incident, the three investigations have different purposes and are clear and distinct from each other” said Captain Mike Zamperini, deputy commander, Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “Public service requires transparency and, if warranted, accountability, which we will ensure through these investigations.”

The administrative investigation should be the first completed, the Coast Guard said. The results are expected by late November.

Picture: The 42-foot fishing vessel Sea Shepherd sinks approximately nine nautical miles northeast of Vieques, Puerto Rico, following a collision with the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
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