Coast Guard orders formal investigation of Kulluk grounding

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:

(JUNEAU, Alaska) — Rear Adm. Thomas P. Ostebo, the Coast Guard 17th District commander, ordered a formal marine casualty investigation on Friday into the circumstances and contributing factors involved in the grounding of the drilling unit Kulluk on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska on Dec. 31, 2012. A formal marine casualty investigation is convened when a vessel casualty has considerable regional significance, may indicate vessel class problems, or is the best means to assess technical issues that may have contributed to the incident.

The formal marine casualty investigation will be led by a Coast Guard investigating officer, with participation and support by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as technical advisers.

In accordance with statute, the formal investigation will probe every aspect of the incident, to include but not limited to the causes of the incident, whether there is evidence that any failure of material was involved or contributed to the incident or whether there is evidence of misconduct, inattention, negligence of willful violation of the law.

Additionally the investigation will evaluate factors associated with the Kulluk and its support vessels, and will determine as closely as possible:

– The cause of the accident looking at the full scope of all towing vessels, towing equipment, procedures and personnel involved;

– Whether there is evidence that any failure of material (either physical or design) was involved or contributed to the casualties, so that proper recommendations for the prevention of the recurrence of similar casualties may be made;

– Whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence, or willful violation of the law on the part of any person holding a Coast Guard credential contributed to the casualties, so that appropriate proceedings against the credential of such person may be recommended;

– Whether there is evidence any person caused or contributed to the cause of the casualties including the planning and subsequent review of the Kulluk's tow plan;

The marine casualty investigation likely will take several months to complete due to the extent and depth of its inquiry. The findings of the investigation will position the Coast Guard to take appropriate remedial action to address the factors that contributed to the casualty.

By Professional Mariner Staff