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
8 Proceedings Winter 2015–2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings international casualty investigations. For example, when the Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy, INV-NCOE investigators stepped forward to coordinate more than 100 interviews of the U.S. citizens aboard. 1 This helped docu- ment the witness perspectives, glean lessons learned from the incident, and provide feedback that supported the Ital- ian government's investigation. More recently, INV-NCOE investigators assisted the Costa Rican government in its investigation of the passenger ves- sel Pura Vida Princess, which sank off the coast of Costa Rica in January 2015. 2 Intra-agency Eforts For their part, S&R NCOE personnel have greatly improved the working relationship with administrative law judges and their staffs. This requires a delicate balance, as the working relationships must maintain each entity's impar- tiality. The S&R NCOE has also established communication channels with docketing center personnel who liaise with investigators, ALJs, and respondents (merchant mariners). Such overall efforts help to ensure that the suspension and revocation process remains effcient and effective. The Big Picture Since their inception, the NCOEs have provided stellar ser- vice to U.S. Coast Guard personnel and realized the envi- sioned program improvements. Both the S&R NCOE and INV-NCOE positively impact mission execution, which in turn provides an important public service through sound investigative and enforcement actions that promote safety throughout the maritime domain. About the author: LCDR Randy Waddington has served in multiple capacities during his 25-year Coast Guard career, most recently as the investigations program manager at Coast Guard headquarters. He has also served as chief of the investigations division at Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach, chief of the inspec- tions division at Sector Juneau, and senior investigating offcer at Sector Juneau. Endnotes: 1. The Italian-fagged cruise ship Costa Concordia was on a Mediterranean Sea cruise when the vessel grounded off the Italian island of Isola del Giglio on January 13, 2012, resulting in the loss of 32 lives. The vessel was carrying 4,229 people at the time of the incident. Source: Italy's Ministry Of Infrastructures and Transports report on the safety technical investigation of the Costa Concordia marine casualty; see www.safety4sea.com/images/media/pdf/Costa_Concordia_-_Full_Investiga- tion_Report.pdf. 2. On January 8, 2015, the Costa Rican-fagged sightseeing vessel Pura Vida Princess sank on the Pacifc Coast of Costa Rica near Punta Leona. There were 109 pas- sengers aboard the vessel at the time of the incident; three died as a result of the sinking. Source: CG investigator draft fndings (report not yet publicly available). Communication Communication is critical to supporting the investigator community, so each NCOE takes turns sponsoring weekly teleconferences. Besides providing solutions to "hot-button" topics and fostering dialogue, these teleconferences also provide a forum for specifc legal guidance, as there are numerous nuances regarding how to best implement U.S. Coast Guard policies, U.S. code statutes, Code of Federal Regulations, and vessel technical issues. In the same vein, recognizing how important it is to foster reliable communications, NCOE personnel also now main- tain the Marine Investigating Offcer Exchange, an internal U.S. Coast Guard Intranet website. Through this portal, any- one within the investigator community can access the latest information, pose questions, and receive responses from colleagues or NCOE personnel, which engenders greater awareness for current issues. There are also dedicated areas within this information exchange containing internal Coast Guard policy guidance documents, technical tools, and investigator best practices and lessons learned. Additionally, NCOE personnel are just a phone call away when local investigators or their commands need help working through diffcult issues. This subject matter exper- tise allows units to more effciently manage their caseloads. Enhanced Working Relationships_ Placing dedicated active duty and civilian personnel at the NCOEs provides continuity and the ideal opportunity to foster long-term working relationships with other investi- gative bodies. For example, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) personnel regularly interact with INV-NCOE investigators. This pre-established working relationship greatly improves feld response effectiveness and helps pre- vent any potential cross-jurisdictional issues. Interagency and International Eforts Whereas a local investigator may be assigned as a liaison to an NTSB investigation for the frst time, Investigations National Center of Expertise investigators are intimately familiar with the NTSB investigation process. This level of familiarity provides a tremendous resource not only for feld investigators, but it also allows INV-NCOE investiga- tors to respond to high-visibility investigations and help streamline investigative efforts involving multiple investi- gative bodies. Investigations National Center of Expertise staff mem- bers also reach beyond domestic borders to assist with