Cutter commander relieved of duties after fatal collision off Puerto Rico

(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) — Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Williamsz was relieved of duties as the commanding officer of USCGC Winslow Griesser (WPC 1116) on Friday.

Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, effected the relief due to a loss of confidence in Williamsz’s ability to effectively command the cutter.

Williamsz was administratively reassigned to shore duty at Coast Guard Sector San Juan immediately following a collision at sea on Aug. 8, 2022. Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Gillen is in command of the cutter to maintain operations until a permanent commanding officer is assigned.

Cutter Winslow Griesser and the fishing vessel Desakata collided while underway off the coast of Dorado, Puerto Rico, resulting in the death of one of the Desakata crewmen, injury to the other, and the loss of the fishing vessel. No Coast Guard personnel were injured in the collision.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Winslow Griesser, home-ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico, transits toward the pier in Bridgetown, Barbados, in June 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo

The Coast Guard continues to cooperate with an ongoing investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Winslow Griesser is a Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC) home-ported in San Juan with a crew of 24. FRCs are used for a variety of missions including search and rescue, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, fisheries regulations enforcement and homeland security.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Rich Miller