National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
On January 12, 2002, a small passenger vessel, Bayside Blaster, and a U. S. Coast Guard patrol boat collided in Miami, Florida. The two Coast Guard crewmen on board were ejected from the boat and swam to shore. Some of the passengers on board the Bayside Blaster sustained minor injuries.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators reviewed the military record of the Coast Guard Operator and the merchant marine record of the Master of the passenger vessel and nothing unusual was noted. Alcohol tests conducted by Coast Guard investigators on the crew of the Bayside Blaster were negative. NTSB has received results of company-administered drug test on the Bayside Blaster crew.
The Bayside Blaster operator's (Master) drug test was negative; the drug test for the deckhand was positive for Cannabinoids/THC (marijuana). Coast Guard-administered tests of the Coast Guard patrol boat operator and crewmember were negative for both alcohol and drugs. The Board has conducted interviews with crew members and passengers, and has collected the following information:
The Bayside Blaster was traveling parallel to the shore of Palm Island near the Eastern tip between 6 and 8 knots. The Coast Guard boat approached from the north, around the tip of Hibiscus Island, traveling between 25 and 35 knots. The Coast Guard operator saw the Bayside Blaster just before impact and turned hard left. The Bayside Blaster operator saw the Coast Guard patrol boat just before impact and tried to accelerate to avoid a collision. The collision occurred close to the eastern end of Palm Island.
The right side of the Coast Guard boat sideswiped the right side of the Bayside Blaster. The two Coast Guard crewmen were thrown from the boat, and it kept running in a left-hand circle. The Coast Guard boat circled and again hit the right side of the Bayside Blaster. The operator moved the Bayside Blaster north to avoid the still circling Coast Guard boat. The Bayside Blaster was intentionally beached on Monument Island to check for damage.
The Coast Guard boat continued running in circles, at least twice coming close to the Coast Guard crew in the water. The boat also struck a moored yacht on Palm Island. The Coast Guard crew was able to reach Palm Island, assisted by persons on the shore who jumped in to the water to help them to shore. The Coast Guard boat eventually ran into pilings on Palm Island.
Officers from Miami Beach Marine Patrol and Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission were then able to board the boat and shut off its engines. NTSB examined the navigation lights on the Coast Guard patrol boat and observed that a radar scanner was installed directly in front of the all- around white light. The placement of the scanner is being examined further.
Witnesses on the shore, some of the passengers on the Bayside Blaster and the deckhand all recall seeing running lights on the Coast Guard boat before the first impact. The lights have been delivered to the NTSB laboratory for further examination. Passengers and witnesses on shore state that they observed the Bayside Blaster's running lights also. The Board will release more factual information as it becomes available.
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.