Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The boating accident investigation Tiger Team: Mysteries solved Part—2

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine

Poker Run Collision

Incident: In another incident, two high-powered cigarette boats competing in a “poker run” at high speed collided, resulting in five fatalities.

One boat was heading east on one leg of the poker run and the other was heading west on another leg of the run. The boats were about to meet on opposite courses when one of the boats turned hard to port, spun around, and ended up dead in the water on the same course and directly in front of the other boat. The following boat collided with it in an extremely powerful collision that practically destroyed both boats. The lone survivor of the crash could provide no details as to the cause of the crash.

Investigation: Because of the difficulty in determining the cause of the accident, the Tiger Team was called in to assist. Both boats were recovered and it was found that the engines of the boat that had veered violently had ripped out of the bottom of the boat. The investigation also revealed that the hydraulic steering system had a small leak in it, but this alone may not have been enough to cause the violent swerving.

Conclusion: After careful examination, the Tiger Team expert found that the owner of the boat that had swerved had made some modifications to the trim tab system that were not strong enough for their purpose. The starboard trim tab assembly likely failed catastrophically, causing the starboard side of the boat to rise out of the water and swerve violently to port into the path of the oncoming boat. This theory was supported by one witness who stated that he saw the starboard bottom of the boat rise out of the water.

In part 3 readers will read about the investigation behind a fatal sailing event.

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