Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/617100
19 Winter 2015–2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings system (ECS). The S-VDR displays selected information about the vessel's maneuvering control settings as well as the recorded audio from fve microphones located on the inside of the vessel's wheelhouse and bridge wings. The ECS data fles contained a chart showing the vessel's movements along with the vessel's course, speed over the ground and through the water, its rate of turn, and the water depth. In addition, the electronic chart system contained a graphic display of any other vessel along its track with an automatic identifcation system (AIS), but it is impor- tant to remember that although larger commercial ves- sels are equipped with an AIS transponder, most recre- ational vessels don't appear on this type of ECS chart display. INV-NCOE Support Following a request for assistance, the U.S. Coast Guard's Investigations National Center of Expertise (INV-NCOE) supervisor dispatched two personnel with the appropri- ate investigations equipment to support this major marine casualty. The INV-NCOE investigators departed immedi- ately for the USCG Marine Safety Unit (MSU) in Paducah, Kentucky — the unit responsible for the investigation. After reviewing the elements of the case, the U.S. Coast Guard District Eight commander designated it a formal district investigation. On the day following the nighttime allision, the marine casualty investigation team, comprised of Coast Guard and NTSB personnel, traveled to the scene of the incident. These team members, who had never worked together before, would be working alongside each other for months to come over the course of the investigation. The Combined Team Arriving at MSU Paducah, the combined team assembled in a conference room to receive information on the incident from the local Coast Guard investigators. The Coast Guard lead investigating offcer in turn briefed the MSU's com- manding offcer on the course of action and the investiga- tion's objectives. The team had already begun the collabora- tive process based on a shared respect and understanding of the priorities of each agency. The next step was for the team to visit the incident scene to view the vessel's layout, design, construction, and unique characteristics and gain a general overview of the vessel's key personnel duties. Once there, the Coast Guard and NTSB investigators observed vessel stabilization and preliminary salvage operations. They also introduced themselves to the vessel personnel, the operating company's management personnel, and attorneys. Meanwhile, the NTSB highway accident investigator exam- ined the implications of the incident with respect to vehicu- lar traffc, the highway bridge, and the roadway. The NTSB technical expert worked closely with an INV-NCOE Coast Guard investigator to gather electronic evidence from the vessel's S-VDR and the ECS. This data was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board laboratory for analy- sis and examination via rigid chain-of-custody protocols, in which two members of the joint team accompanied the electronic evidence to the lab. The Interviews At the incident site, investigators completed the on-scene overview and identifed the various potential shipboard wit- nesses and other witnesses. To accommodate crewmembers and the involved parties at this remote location, the lead CG investigator chose a small rental cabin at a local state park for interviews. This guaranteed privacy in a location close to the damaged vessel, the bridge site, and the operating company's shoreside response site, thus providing an ideal location. Recorded interviews followed a structured format, as the USCG and NTSB investigators focused on different lines of questioning based on agency priorities. Attorneys were present throughout most of the interviews, and written interview transcripts the NTSB prepared were of great help in the formal investigation hearings that were to follow. The Re-Enactment During the course of the interviews, it became apparent that the investigators could beneft from seeing the vicinity of the casualty in conditions similar to those at the time of the incident, so the investigators used the USCGC Cimarron, a local Coast Guard inland river tender, to recreate the events leading up to the allision. A technician from the NTSB uses a sophisticated laser imaging device to map the twisted steel on the bow of the M/ V Delta Mariner while wearing a Coast Guard fotation device and an NTSB hard hat, suggesting the epitome of collaboration. Photo courtesy of the NTSB.