Commercial Vessel Compliance

6/12/2014: Report of investigation into the sinking of the tall ship Bounty

The U.S. Coast Guard has released the report of investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the tall ship Bounty, during which one crewmember died and another remains missing and is presumed dead, 123 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., Oct. 29, 2012.

A series of events contributed to the causal factors that resulted in the sinking of the Bounty. A significant factor was faulty management and crew risk assessment procedures, specifically, choosing to navigate a vessel in insufficient material condition in close proximity to an approaching hurricane with an inexperienced crew.

The report also identified issues with Bounty’s classification. At the time of the sinking, the Bounty was treated as a recreational vessel for regulatory purposes, though it was a documented vessel with multiple endorsements. These endorsements rendered Bounty eligible to pursue certification as a small passenger or sailing school vessel. The Bounty’s management decided against taking the steps necessary to meet the minimum safety requirements that would have applied with such certification in favor of less stringent recreational standards.

Among the safety recommendations issued in the report is the recommendation that the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant review the policy for attraction vessels and evaluate their regulatory status when traveling from port to port, and determine whether the classification of any of these vessels as recreational is appropriate.

The Coast Guard reminds vessel owners and operators that safety and risk management need to be a priority when evaluating maritime evolutions to ensure responsible, safe and efficient operations. Professional mariners have a responsibility to ensure they manage and follow approved procedures for all maritime operations to prevent and mitigate potential incidents.

View the full report of investigation for further details.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.