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
12 Proceedings Winter 2015–2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings her answer on the same day her question was asked, her question impacted Coast Guard policy years later. Like a Good Neighbor We also wanted to make sure we could be an asset to local units, so we reached out to the Eighth District commander and prevention staff to remind them we were just down the street if they needed the INV-NCOE. It was just a few weeks later that they called for assistance with the second-largest oil spill in the state of Texas. It hap- pened in Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur's area of responsi- bility, and the INV-NCOE supervisor at the time was tasked as the lead investigating offcer for the casualty that caused the spill. The casualty involved a tanker, a tug pushing two oil cargo barges, and a moored break-bulk freight ship. This case would prove to be a precursor of things to come, inaugurating INV-NCOE's long working relationship with NTSB personnel on major marine casualties. It also showcased just how invaluable vessel bridge digital video recorder data could be for identifying causal factors in a marine casualty investigation. Deepwater Horizon At about 4:00 a.m. on April 21, 2010, my wife woke me up to tell me there was an oil rig on fre in the Gulf of Mexico. Still under a sleepy fog, I glanced at the TV and told her it was in Morgan City's zone, so it wasn't my investigation. An hour and a half later, my phone rings — it's the chief of staff for the Eighth Coast Guard District. I'd been tapped as a member of the investigation team for the now-infamous Deepwater Horizon oil spill — a lot of pressure to take in before my frst cup of coffee. I immediately put together a "go" bag, and one hour later, I found myself at the BP facility in Houma, Louisiana. I managed media interest, researched Coast Guard jurisdic- tion regarding the investigation, and used the International Maritime Organization Casualty Code for my first time ever. I enjoyed the work and the challenge it presented me, but was only on the case for three days before the Comman- dant took over the investigation and appointed handpicked personnel to take over the case. Because my supervisor was transferring, I was removed from consideration, but two members of the INV-NCOE staff worked on the case for the next year. The next two new INV-NCOE civilian investigating offcer hires worked in tandem at the Deepwater Horizon evidence yard for six months with the FBI as well as the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, an experience that helped shape process guides developed for the feld today. investigator who was also a Coast Guard-licensed master. We were able to track down the circular from Det Norske Veritas that clearly articulated the issue with that particular rudder/propeller combination, learning that at dead slow speed, the vessel loses steerage. With that full understand- ing of the casualty, we were able to reach out to the local unit and expedite the fnal report. Same-Day Service, Long-Term Impact Soon after that, many more calls started coming in, and our standard was to provide same-day service, meaning that if you called the INV-NCOE, you would either get an answer to your question or a follow-up call that day with an esti- mate of when you could expect an answer. For example, we once received a call from a feld investigator who was trying to fgure out if she needed to cite a vessel for sailing foreign waters without international documenta- tion, as the vessel had left the continental U.S. on a voyage to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Considering the vessel's des- tination was U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, it was our understanding that a U.S. naval base should be considered U.S. soil. We reached out to Coast Guard headquarters, and by that afternoon, we had a determination that agreed with our assumption that any voyage from a U.S. port to U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay would not be considered an international voyage. That determination was pivotal, because once the U.S. gave up control of the Panama Canal, any voyage through it became an international voyage, which meant that the maritime industry had to be compliant with all applicable international laws, rules, and treaties. Prior to the handover, the exact same trip had not been considered an international voyage. So although the feld investigating offcer received The M/ V Patrice McAllister after a fatal fre in which the chief engineer was killed and fve others were severely injured. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard investigator, Marine Safety Detachment Massena, New York.