San Diego Bay, California
December 20, 2009
NTSB Number: MAR-11-03
NTIS Number: PB2011-916403
Adopted: July 12, 2011
On Sunday, December 20, 2009, about 1744 Pacific standard time,1 the 33-foot-long Coast Guard vessel CG 33118, designated by the Coast Guard as a "special purpose craft – law enforcement" or SPC-LE, with five crewmembers on board, collided with a 24-foot-long Sea Ray recreational vessel with state registration number CF 2607 PZ, carrying 13 people, on San Diego Bay, California. The collision occurred during the city's annual holiday boat parade, the Parade of Lights. The Sea Ray was headed west near the main shipping channel2 to enable the occupants to watch the boat parade. The CG 33118, on patrol in the bay, was also headed west, its crew responding to a reported grounding. The CG 33118 struck and overran the Sea Ray's stern near the west end of Harbor Island. As a result of the collision, an 8-year-old boy on board the Sea Ray was fatally injured and four other people on board sustained serious injuries. No CG 33118 crewmembers were injured in the accident.
Following the collision, drug and alcohol testing was performed on CG 33118 crewmembers, and all results were negative. The Sea Ray operator voluntarily submitted to drug and alcohol testing, and the results of his tests were negative as well.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision between the CG 33118 and the Sea Ray was the failure of the CG 33118 crew to see and avoid the Sea Ray because of the excessive speed at which the coxswain operated the CG 33118, given the prevailing darkness, background lighting, and high vessel density, and the U.S. Coast Guard's lack of effective oversight of its small boat operations both nationally and at Coast Guard Station San Diego.
Safety issues in this accident include the speed of the CG 33118, Coast Guard oversight of small boat operations, Coast Guard monitoring of small boat operational data, SPC-LE forward visibility, and Coast Guard use of personal cell phones while under way. As a result of this investigation, the NTSB makes recommendations to the Coast Guard.
To the U.S. Coast Guard: