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
22 Proceedings Winter 2015–2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings for bravery — to Captain Douglas Grubbs and Captain Chris Rieder. The Legacy The marine casualties that the Coast Guard investigates occur in challenging maritime environments, with people working on vessels navigating swollen rivers, creeping through dense fog, besting mountainous seas, and trans- porting dangerous cargoes. The casualties may occur far out at sea, or in the heart of our most densely packed cities. Mariners have an unwritten code as well as a legal responsi- bility to come to the assistance of mariners in distress, often resulting in daring rescues the Coast Guard is unaware of. Commendable acts occur any time crewmembers use their skill, dedication, or expertise to minimize the effects of a casualty by rescuing other mariners, fghting fres, or taking quick action to prevent a more dangerous catastrophe — and when they do so, recognition is in order. After a casualty, the Coast Guard lead investigating offcer gathers facts in an unbiased manner to produce a report of investigation (ROI) with both enforcement and safety recom- mendations. Additionally, a section in the fnal part of the report calls attention to any commendable acts performed during and after the incident. Coast Guard leadership at the local, district, and headquarters levels review and comment on the ROI, and can act on the report's recommendations. But mariner recognition is not solely limited to the Coast Guard's accident investigations. The partnership between the Coast Guard and the marine industry is in many ways a collaborative prevention effort to avoid accidents and keep the waterways safe. This recognition can come in a variety of forms, from "Bravo Zulu" 1 letters or certifcates of appre- ciation to higher-level awards such as the Distinguished and Meritorious Public Service Awards. The traditional hand- shake exchanged when awards are presented is a ftting way to underscore the historic, unique partnership between the people served by the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard itself. About the author: Mr. Keith Fawcett is a staff member at the USCG Investigations National Center of Expertise and is a licensed merchant mariner. He has worked in the marine industry for more than 20 years, has participated in several high- profle marine incident investigations, and is one of the winners of the Sener Award for excellence in marine casualty investigations. Bibliography: Available at www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg545/docs/boards/unionfaith.pdf. Endnote: 1. "Bravo Zulu" is a traditional naval signal, indicating "well done." burning — capsized and sank. Captain Scarbrough and the rest of the crew were presumed to have perished in the fre and explosions. Following the incident, the Coast Guard and members of the National Transportation Safety Board began the investiga- tion, which noted: "The actions of the crews of the tugs McGrath II and Cappy Bisso, which resulted in the saving of twenty-six lives and possibly preventing the burning of Union Faith from drifting into the New Orleans wharves are highly commendable …" Eventual Recognition Fast-forward to 30 years later. In 1999, oil was seen bubbling to the surface of the Mississippi River in the heart of New Orleans in one of the deepest parts of the river at Algiers Point. This oil sheen had bubbled to the surface periodically over the years. The Coast Guard Marine Safety Offce com- mander at the time, CAPT Steve Rochon, and retired Rear Admiral Paul Pluta, who was the district commander at the time, met with a river pilot to talk about the source of the oil and create a plan of action for the spill. At the meeting, district commander Pluta asked the river pilot some questions about the original accident leading to the leaking oil. During the discussion he made a connec- tion between the person he was speaking with — Captain Douglas Grubbs — and one of the names mentioned in the incident. He asked if the river pilot was the father of Captain Grubbs, and the man answered that it was he himself who had been involved in the rescue that night. That meeting sparked the Coast Guard's awards investiga- tion to recognize the mariners who gave so selfessly that night. Finally, over three decades later, on April 20, 2001, then-Coast Guard district commander Pluta presented the Gold Lifesaving Medal — the Coast Guard's highest award Captain Douglas Grubbs, left, and Captain Chris Rieder hold a framed USCG gold lifesaving medal near the site of the catastrophic incident. U.S. Coast Guard photo.