Investigations & Casualty Analysis

Coast Guard, NTSB sign updated MOU regarding investigations and related matters

The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) June 17, 2021, to institutionalize best practices developed during recent joint investigations including EL FARO, STRETCH DUCK 7, GOLDEN RAY, and CONCEPTION.

Adm. Karl L. Schultz, the commandant of the Coast Guard, and The honorable Robert Sumwalt, the National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, sign a memorandum of understanding at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., June 17, 2021. The MOU institutionalizes best practices developed between the two agencies during recent investigations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Magee/Released)

Signing for their respective agencies were Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant U.S. Coast Guard and the Honorable Robert Sumwalt, Chairman of the NTSB.

The NTSB and the Coast Guard entered into this MOU to facilitate timely cooperation between the agencies as they carry out their respective statutory missions.  The MOU is intended to assist in determining which agency will lead certain major marine casualties and accidents involving public and non-public vessels. The primary goal is to establish standard procedures for interagency communication, cooperation, and coordination. A unified interagency approach during the fact-finding and evidence collection phase of a marine casualty investigation best serves the maritime community and the public.  

The updated MOU replaces a 2008 USCG-NTSB MOU, which was a valuable tool to ensure the two agencies work in a collaborative and efficient manner, particularly during the often-demanding early stages of an incident.  

Significant changes include.

  • Provisions regarding NTSB interaction with CG-led incident response operations in accordance with CG Incident Command System (ICS) protocols.
  • Protocols for NTSB to utilize its Transportation Disaster Assistance (TDA) resources to provide support to next of kin when the CG is the investigative lead.
  • Procedures for NTSB participation and lab support for International Maritime Organization (IMO) investigations where the CG participates as the designated U.S. Federal authority serving in the capacity as the Substantially Interested State (SIS).
  • Addition of four new Appendixes:
    • Appendix One – Protocols for the Sharing and Public Release of Information during Marine Casualty Investigations.
    • Appendix Two – Public Affairs Coordination during a Marine Casualty Investigation.
    • Appendix Three – Cooperation between USCG SAR effort and NTSB led investigations including aviation accidents.
    • Appendix Four – Cooperation for Cyber Investigative Actions.

The full MOU is available for viewing and download at the below link.

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