>Fifth District Investigators Recognized for Excellence in Marine Casualty Investigations

>On Oct. 22, RADM Brian M. Salerno, Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship, announced via ALCOAST 606/09 the winners of the Congressman James Sener Award for Excellence in Marine Investigations for calendar years 2005 through 2008.

Six of the 12 marine investigators recognized were from the Fifth Coast Guard District. Fifth District award winners are as follows:

For CY2005, Mr. Jerry Crooks of Sector Hampton Roads for his investigation of the T/V BOW MARINER accident. On Feb. 28, 2004, the foreign flag chemical tanker BOW MARINER caught fire, exploded and sank offshore V.A. Three crewmembers were killed, six injured and 18 are missing and presumed dead. The vessel’s cargo of ethyl alcohol (3,188,711 gallons) was released, along with the vessel’s heavy fuel oil (192,904 gallons), diesel fuel (48,266 gallons) and slops (quantity unknown). Additonal coverage.

For CY2005, Commander Richard Raksnis of the Fifth District for his investigation of the fire onboard the SSG EDWARD A CARTER. On Jul. 14, 20001, the U.S. flag containership had an engine room fire while moored at the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, Southport, N.C., when loaded with approximately 5 million pounds of Class 1 explosive cargoes in support of Military Sealift Command operations. The fire resulted in the death of two crewmembers and $15 million dollars in property damage.

For CY2005 (honorable mention), Mr. Paul Ledoux of Sector Hampton Roads for his investigation of the death onboard the M/V LONDON EXPRESS. On Oct. 26, 2003, the second engineer onboard the foreign flag container ship was found dead inside the scavenge air receiver on the main engine. A joint investigation commenced including members of the Coast Guard, the Virginia Port Authority Police Department, and the Virginia State Police. The death was deemed accidental.

For CY2005 (honorable mention), Lieutenant Commander Ellis Moose of Sector Hampton Roads for his investigation of the towing vessel CHESAPEAKE’s loss of rudder. In the Spring 2002, the U.S. flag towing vessel CHESAPEAKE lost its rudder but continued to operate for an extended period of time despite responding sluggishly to steering commands. The Coast Guard’s investigation uncovered numerous issues that led to a temporary suspension of the vessel’s load line certificate and an in-depth examination of the vessel’s stability.

For CY2006, Chief Warrant Officer John Nay of Sector Delaware Bay for his investigation of the T/V ATHOS I oil spill. On Nov. 26, 2004, the foreign flag tanker ATHOS I hit a submerged object in the Delaware River spilling approximately 263,000 gallons of crude oil near Paulsboro, N.J. Additional coverage.

For CY2007, Chief Warrant Officer Peter Hackett of Sector Baltimore for his investigation of the M/V MONTROSE grounding. On Feb. 28, 2007, the foreign flag bulker MONTROSE grounded in the Chesapeake Bay. The grounding resulted in no damage or pollution, however, the vessel had to be lightered in order to be refloated. Additional coverage.

Background: The Coast Guard’s marine investigations program has been a vital arm of its marine safety activities since 1838 when the program’s predecessor, the Steamboat Inspection Service, was established. In 1832 alone, approximately 14 percent of the steam vessels in operation were destroyed by explosions killing more than 1,000 people. These explosions occurred largely because there were no inspection laws or rules of navigation. In some cases, mariner incompetence, negligence, and/or misconduct were causal factors. As a result, the U.S. Congress established inspection laws and created the Steamship Inspection Service.

Congressman James Sener of Virginia sponsored the legislation that created the modern marine investigation program on Jun. 20, 1874. Congressman Sener’s bill put in place the world’s most effective system for identifying and eliminating unsafe conditions in the marine transportation system.

The Sener Award honors and recalls Congressman James Sener’s contribution to the safety of mariners, vessels, and the marine environment, as well as the continuous improvement of the Coast Guard’s program by recognizing truly exceptional marine investigations.