Thursday, September 1, 2011

Marine Experts on Call\The boating accident investigation Tiger Team

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Mr. Phil Cappel, chief, Recreational Boating Product Assurance Branch
U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety

The widespread use of the Internet by the news media has provided the capability to conduct nationwide searches of online news articles regarding boating accidents. This capability allows the USCG Boating Safety Program to monitor boating accidents and identify if there are any trends of accidents in a particular area, with a particular type of boat, or during a particular type of boating activity.

It also affords our Product Assurance Branch the means to follow up with the media contact or the accident investigating official. The Product Assurance Branch was particularly interested in:

  • accidents in which boats less than 20 feet in length sank,
  • carbon monoxide poisoning incidents,
  • propeller injury incidents,
  • any accident where a defective product was suspected to have contributed to or directly caused the accident.

On January 23, 2003, the on-call, fast-response team of marine experts was established. This team quickly came to be known as the accident investigation “Tiger Team.”

Results Right off the Bat
Within its first few months the team investigated an accident involving a near-sinking of a boat less than 20 feet in length that led to a recall of several thousand boats that did not have the required amount of flotation.

The team also solicited State Boating Law Administrators to identify appropriate accidents for follow up, and offered to assist state boating accident investigators. This began what would become a productive partnership.

Appreciation of Efforts
Tiger Team investigations have resulted in recalls of boats that were not in compliance with the federal safety regulations or boats containing defects that were identified as causing a substantial risk of injury to the public.

Additionally, the Tiger Team has assisted accident investigators in making determinations of the causes of accidents that otherwise may have gone unresolved. (See the “Mysteries Solved” posts coming soon.)

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