Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
Washington, DC — July 12, 2011
I want to thank my fellow Board members for their participation today.
In closing, I'd like to recognize the outstanding efforts of the Safety Board staff who completed the accident investigation and developed this excellent and thorough report; in particular, the staff from the Office of Marine Safety and the Office of Research and Engineering. Brian Curtis, the Investigator-in-Charge, and his team did an excellent job, and all deserve recognition.
This accident highlights how the actions and decisions of the individual operator affect transportation safety. It also demonstrates the critical role of teamwork and organizational oversight. This accident is too similar to the Bayside Blaster investigation that took place on Biscayne Bay, Florida in 2002 - where a Coast Guard vessel, operating too fast at night, struck a passenger vessel. The probable cause for that accident was the Coast Guard coxswain's failure to operate the vessel at a safe speed in a restricted-speed area frequented by small passenger vessels and in conditions of limited visibility due to darkness and background lighting. Contributing to the accident was a lack of adequate Coast Guard oversight.
In the San Diego Bay accident that we considered today, five crewmembers were on board the Coast Guard patrol boat. Our team was only permitted to interview two of them; to our knowledge, no one spoke up about excessive speed.
Safe vessel operation depends on more than the design and performance characteristics of a vessel. It also depends on organizational oversight that creates a safety culture, which in turn, addresses operator team performance and leadership, and crew training. And, ultimately, safe operations require a skilled operator with good judgment supported by a trained crew working as a team.
We stand adjourned.