The Coast Guard published Alcoast 191/15 announcing the winners of the Congressman James Sener Award for Excellence in Marine Investigations. The award recipients are Keith Fawcett, Brian McNamara and retired Cmdr. Joshua McTaggart from the Investigations National Center of Expertise in New Orleans, Louisiana as well as David O’Donnell from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Center. These members were selected for the Sener Award for their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the grounding of the mobile offshore drilling unit Kulluk on the eastern coast of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska, Dec. 31, 2012.
Recommendations from the Kulluk investigations are now being reviewed and acted upon by leaders from the offshore and towing vessel industries as well as agencies that oversee compliance on the Outer Continental Shelf. Additionally, a Towing Safety Advisory Committee workgroup was established as a result of the investigative report.
The report of this investigation, as well as previous award winners, may be accessed on the Coast Guard Homeport Marine Casualty Reports website.
Honorable Mention was awarded to the three members of the Marine Board of Investigation convened by the Commandant regarding the 2009 sinking of the Commercial Fishing Vessel Lady Mary resulting in the loss of the vessel and six fatalities. Capt. Kyle McAvoy, Cmdr. Tracy Phillips and retired Lt. Cmdr. Brian Province are recognized for their hard work and the positive influence their investigation has has had in improving Commercial Fishing Vessel safety. The safety recommendations made are being considered as the Coast Guard incorporates stability and watertight integrity criteria into the Alternate Safety Compliance Program currently under development for commercial fishing vessels.
The Coast Guard’s marine investigations program is rooted in 1838 when the program’s predecessor, the Steamboat Inspection Service, was established as a result of numerous vessel losses caused by a lack of vessel inspection laws or rules of navigation as well as acts of incompetence, negligence or misconduct of involved mariners.
This award honors Congressman James Sener who sponsored legislation in 1974 that created the modern marine investigation program and recalls his contribution to the safety of mariners, vessels and the marine environment by formally recognizing exceptional marine casualty investigations.
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