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19 July 2023

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The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Atlantic Area has taken final action on its investigation involving the deadly collision between a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a small fishing vessel off Puerto Rico last year.

The collision took place on Monday 8th August, 2022, around 1345 hrs , approximately 4 miles northeast of Dorado, Puerto Rico, involving the USCGC WINSLOW GRIESSER WPC 1116 and the 23-foot fishing vessel (mfv) DESAKATA with 2 people on board. The collision resulted in death of one of the persons on the mfv the other was injured.

Vice Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, convened a major incident investigation into the incident on August 11, 2022. The Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) stated that the mishap was caused because neither the USCG cutter nor the mfv saw one another and, as a result, failed to take appropriate action that could have avoided or reduced the severity of the collision.

The report outlines a number of factors that contributed to the failure of the vessels to see one another and avoid colliding resulting in this unfortunate accident.

Vice Adm. Lunday, outlined the MIIB’s findings, describing the DESAKATA  as the give-way vessel in a crossing situation with the USCGC WINSLOW GRIESSER WPC 1116 , which was on the fishing vessel’s starboard side. As the give-way vessel, the mfv had the responsibility to take early and substantial action to keep well clear of the USCG Cutter.

Meanwhile the  MIIB found the mfv had failed to maintain a proper lookout, but she could not factually conclude whether or not the USCG Cutter maintained a proper lookout. Rather, the facts provided sufficient evidence that the cutter did, in fact, fail to maintain a proper lookout that would have enabled her crew to see the DESAKATA in time to take action to avoid the collision. The board also determined both vessels failed to maintain a safe speed.

As a result of the collision, the commanding officer of USCGC WINSLOW GRIESSER WPC 1116, Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Williamsz, was temporarily relieved of his duties.

Based on the findings of this investigation, Rear Adm. David C. Barata, commander of the Coast Guard’s Personnel Service Center at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., permanently relieved Williamsz as commanding officer, on May 9, 2023, citing a loss of confidence in Williamsz’s ability to effectively command the cutter.

Williamsz was recently reassigned to his new duty station in Washington state. Lt. Vincent Deegan has assumed permanent command of the cutter.

You can read a copy of the U.S. Coast Guard’s final action memo and MII report here – https://media.defense.gov/2023/Jul/07/2003254868/-1/-1/0/CGC%20WINSLOW%20GRIESSER%20MII%20-%20FINAL%20ACTION%20MEMO%20AND%20MII%20REPORT.PDF

All images are of the USCGC GLEN HARRIS WPC 1144, the first USCG Sentinel Class Cutter to enter Malta during her maiden call back to 14th January, 2022.

 

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