The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(CALABASH, N.C.) — The Coast Guard initiated a formal investigation into the marine casualty aboard the motor vessel Miss Calabash II Friday to determine what caused the fire and examine the Coast Guard’s vessel inspection methods and procedures implemented for this vessel.
The Miss Calabash II caught fire while at sea off the South Carolina coast Wednesday, forcing the 23 passengers and three crewmembers to abandon ship. All 26 people were recovered from the water quickly and in good condition by two nearby good Samaritan vessels.
Rear Adm. Steve Branham, Seventh Coast Guard District commander, ordered a District Formal Investigation because the casualty involved the loss of a Coast Guard inspected vessel, which is consistent with Coast Guard policy.
A District Formal Investigation consists of a Coast Guard investigating officer who will receive evidence and testimony using formal rules and procedures. Since the Miss Calabash II was a Coast Guard inspected vessel, the investigation will review all aspects of the marine casualty including:
(1) the cause of the accident
(2) whether there is evidence that any failure of material or equipment was involved or contributed to the casualty
(3) whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence, or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty
(4) whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard or other government agency personnel caused or contributed to the casualty
(5) whether the accident should be further investigated by a Marine Board of Investigation
The Investigating Officer is a senior member of the Seventh Coast Guard District prevention division, who will be assisted by investigating officers from Coast Guard Sector Charleston, S.C., and marine inspection personnel from the Fifth Coast Guard District in Portsmouth, Va.
The Coast Guard immediately notified the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the loss of this vessel. The NTSB declined to conduct an independent investigation, however they did provide input for the investigating officer.
The District Formal Investigation is expected to last several weeks.