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.
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57 Winter 2015–2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings In "Breakfast Club" terms: "Screws fall out all the time — the world's an imperfect place." 1 When those screws do fall out, people make mistakes, the weather adversely impacts mari- ners, or sea conditions unexpectedly change, marine casual- ties can —and do — occur. Commonalities or Trends After studying incident particulars, the next step is to evaluate the events or decisions that led to the accident. An investigator can create an event timeline and identify links between incidents. If there are commonalities between sepa- rate incidents, then steps to correct or avert the commonali- ties may prevent future incidents. Consider this fctional scenario: On a clear Tuesday eve- ning, an outbound small coastal freight ship collides with an inbound offshore supply vessel while navigating a bend in a waterway, causing moderate damage to both vessels. On a Tuesday two weeks later, an uninspected towing vessel pushing 12 loaded barges collides with a small passenger vessel in the same general location. Both vessels sustain damage. While each incident may seem different at frst, upon closer examination we can identify several common- alities. By studying the particulars of incidents within a given area, we can detect similarities such as the time of day, time of year, tidal cycles, vessel types, weather conditions, type of operations, or other factors. Such analysis may show a pat- tern of factors that could help predict future events, and investigators can proactively implement efforts to curb, con- trol, eliminate, or publicize such contributing factors. What Are Marine Casualties, and Why Do They Happen? The term "marine casualty" is defned in Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 4 as an incident that involves a vessel and includes, among other things: • loss of life, injury, or any fall overboard; • vessel occurrences that result in a grounding, stranding, foundering, fooding, collision, or allision; • explosions or fres on vessels, reduction or loss of power, or impairments to a vessel's operation; • circumstances that affect a vessel's seaworthiness or incidents that cause signifcant harm to the environment. In the simplest terms, marine casualties are accidents, and accidents occur when an undesirable or unfortunate event occurs unintentionally, often resulting in injury, loss, or damage. The captains of the vessels in the scenarios mentioned didn't plan on colliding, but unexpected events happen every day. Marine Casualty Trends Looking for commonalities to prevent future occurrences. by CDR BLaKe WeLBoRn Detachment Supervisor U.S. Coast Guard Investigations National Center of Expertise Communicate 2002–2013 marine casualties on U.S. western rivers. Graphic courtesy of Dr. James Dobbins.