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Old 10-01-2017, 11:13 PM   #1
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Final report on El Faro

https://media.defense.gov/2017/Oct/0.../-1/-1/0/FINAL PDF ROI 24 SEP 17.PDF

The Board holds the Captain primarily responsible and says they would have issued criminal charges had he survived. They said he misread the storm and overestimated his ship's ability and failed to monitor and prepare for heavy weather.

They recommend civil, but not criminal, penalties against TOTE including charges over not replacing a safety officer and crew rest periods and working hours.

They've also proposed 31 safety regulations and 4 administrative.

While I can't argue with their findings on the Captain, I find the failure to hold TOTE or anyone in their organization criminally responsible extremely disappointing. They could have prevented this. I consider the absence of preventing it a crime not that much short of the one of captaining into it. He either the company or the captain made better judgments, this wouldn't have happened and the fact there is a culture and environment leading to Captains feeling the pressure that leads to such decisions is their fault as well. I do believe in holding Corporations more responsible.
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Old 10-02-2017, 05:04 AM   #2
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https://media.defense.gov/2017/Oct/0.../-1/-1/0/FINAL PDF ROI 24 SEP 17.PDF

The Board holds the Captain primarily responsible and says they would have issued criminal charges had he survived. They said he misread the storm and overestimated his ship's ability and failed to monitor and prepare for heavy weather.

They recommend civil, but not criminal, penalties against TOTE including charges over not replacing a safety officer and crew rest periods and working hours.

They've also proposed 31 safety regulations and 4 administrative.

While I can't argue with their findings on the Captain, I find the failure to hold TOTE or anyone in their organization criminally responsible extremely disappointing. They could have prevented this. I consider the absence of preventing it a crime not that much short of the one of captaining into it. He either the company or the captain made better judgments, this wouldn't have happened and the fact there is a culture and environment leading to Captains feeling the pressure that leads to such decisions is their fault as well. I do believe in holding Corporations more responsible.
I agree. They should hold TOTE accountable criminally. All they did want open the door for the families of those lost to sue TOTE for wrongful dead. That is the norm in most case like this. Big money walks criminally but pay out to families which is pennies when talking about a life.

If they would start putting these Nutters on trial and in jail Captains would not feel the need to take the risk to run through or around storms. It is a bloody shame!

Cheers.

H.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:31 AM   #3
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The captain's job includes the final decision for risk assessment. His first responsibility is for the safety of the crew and passengers. Based on his knowledge of the ship's condition and the weather, nobody was in a better position to make a go / no go decision. He failed. The responsibility mostly rests on his shoulders. Simple question, do you think he would have gone if he thought he had a 1 in 4 chance of the ship sinking? There was clearly risk; he misjudged it.

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Old 10-02-2017, 07:36 AM   #4
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Final report on El Faro

For several reasons, that make sense, the vesselís Captain holds any and all responsibility for the operation, safety and sea worthiness of the vessel. As a crew member you either have faith in the captain or you donít go.
My dad was a captain of a working two man tugboat. He was asked by the company to perform a certain job. He told the office that under the current conditions it was dangerous and he refused. They asked a second captain on another tugboat and he accepted the task. End result, the tugboat sank in the swift current and the deckhand drowned.
Donít work for a captain you donít trust.
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:11 AM   #5
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What a cop out and complete disappointed by the USCG! Makes me sick. Just like the Deepwater Horizon, don't put blame where blame should fall!
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:19 AM   #6
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I agree. They should hold TOTE accountable criminally. All they did want open the door for the families of those lost to sue TOTE for wrongful dead. That is the norm in most case like this. Big money walks criminally but pay out to families which is pennies when talking about a life.

If they would start putting these Nutters on trial and in jail Captains would not feel the need to take the risk to run through or around storms. It is a bloody shame!

Cheers.

H.
Except they're pulling out an ancient law to minimize the amount they can be sued for. So the payout is relatively small.
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:46 AM   #7
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What a cop out and complete disappointed by the USCG! Makes me sick. Just like the Deepwater Horizon, don't put blame where blame should fall!
Salt, you are sailing on large commercial vessels and have better insight on this subject than most of us.

From what I have read, it appeared to me that the pressure on Captains from corporate personnel was a factor as others have also noted, so it appears you have the same opinion.
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:56 AM   #8
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Salt, you are sailing on large commercial vessels and have better insight on this subject than most of us.

From what I have read, it appeared to me that the pressure on Captains from corporate personnel was a factor as others have also noted, so it appears you have the same opinion.
I will go to my grave believing the office said sail or lose your job. I'm not the only one with this opinion.

I've been there, the bottom dollar is always on the office mind.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:02 AM   #9
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The facts don't support a finding of criminality by the company. The Board got it right. Further, the expensive effort to retrieve the data recorder added nothing of consequence to the findings.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:11 AM   #10
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The facts don't support a finding of criminality by the company. The Board got it right. Further, the expensive effort to retrieve the data recorder added nothing of consequence to the findings.
Hahahahahahaha........
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:15 AM   #11
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When the ship sailed, I don't think the storm was considered a major risk. If so they could have stuck to the Fla east coast and Cuba north coast. Instead they stuck to planned route and went right into the storm. And the storm rapidly intensified. Storm motion was hard to predict.

I don't see fault with the company. All on the master. Cavalier attitude heading into the storm with a rather old ship. Stayed in bed til what, 4AM?? That alone is telling.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:26 AM   #12
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I will go to my grave believing the office said sail or lose your job. I'm not the only one with this opinion.

I've been there, the bottom dollar is always on the office mind.
I don't believe they outright said that, but I do believe there was continual job pressure and the company was too interested in Alaska to even pay attention. Read the part where not one person in the company was even following the El Faro or the storm. Not one. The person assigned responsibility was in Washington working on the build of the new ships.

I do believe the captain was wrong, regardless of the pressure. However, I believe TOTE was also very much at fault. Either TOTE or the Captain could have said no and saved the lives. They both failed to do so. The key factors in both were a combination of money and not paying enough attention as to what was going on.

One other key element, in my opinion, there was no independent person or agency for those aboard the vessel to contact and raise their concerns and alarm. This is also pointed out in the board's report.

There are so many things pointed out about how TOTE was handling or not handling things. The place I differ from the report is on whether those things rose to a level of being criminal. The board says they weren't intentional so didn't. I look to other criminal charges such as depraved indifference. You can be criminally liable for acts or omissions that you knew or should have known had the likelihood of serious consequences.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:29 AM   #13
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When the ship sailed, I don't think the storm was considered a major risk. If so they could have stuck to the Fla east coast and Cuba north coast. Instead they stuck to planned route and went right into the storm. And the storm rapidly intensified. Storm motion was hard to predict.

I don't see fault with the company. All on the master. Cavalier attitude heading into the storm with a rather old ship. Stayed in bed til what, 4AM?? That alone is telling.
If you don't see fault with the company, then you haven't read the report. Read it and get back to us on that statement. They even used the word of the vessel operating autonomously, basically saying they had no one watching or tracking the vessel or the storm and felt no obligation to do so.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:40 AM   #14
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Except they're pulling out an ancient law to minimize the amount they can be sued for. So the payout is relatively small.
As I said. Pennies for a life and it is the norm. When Fitzgerald sank in 1975 this is what the companies did, which I am sure TOTE will do to limit their payout to the families.

Under maritime law, ships fall under the jurisdiction of the admiralty courts of their flag country. As Fitzgerald was sailing under the U.S. flag, even though she sank in foreign (Canadian) waters, she was subject to U.S. admiralty law.


With a value of $24 million, Fitzgerald's financial loss was the greatest in Great Lakes sailing history.


In addition to the crew, 26,116 long tons (29,250 short tons; 26,535 t) of taconite sank along with the vessel.


Two widows of crewmen filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Fitzgerald's owners, Northwestern Mutual, and its operators, Oglebay Norton Corporation, one week after she sank. An additional $2.1 million lawsuit was later filed.


Oglebay Norton subsequently filed a petition in the U.S. District Court seeking to "limit their liability to $817,920 in connection with other suits filed by families of crew members."


The company paid compensation to surviving families about 12 months in advance of official findings of the probable cause and on condition of imposed confidentiality agreements.


Robert Hemming, a reporter and newspaper editor, reasoned in his book about Fitzgerald that the USCG's conclusions "were benign in placing blame on [n]either the company or the captain ... [and] saved the Oglebay Norton from very expensive lawsuits by the families of the lost crew

Cheers


H.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:43 AM   #15
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If you don't see fault with the company, then you haven't read the report. Read it and get back to us on that statement. They even used the word of the vessel operating autonomously, basically saying they had no one watching or tracking the vessel or the storm and felt no obligation to do so.
I read the report, at least most of it. I hold that fault lies squarely on the shoulders of the master. Company could be quibbled over about whether they did or did not do this or that, granted. But the master was sleeping in his cabin as the old ship charged at 20kts into a difficult to predict storm.
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:26 PM   #16
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Interesting how so often when we're discussing commercial shipping disasters (as opposed to recreational incidents) it divides into the company bashers and those whose place the responsibility on the captain. I've never worked commercial shipping but when these debates break out, I usually have the same thought -- a captain is charged with life and death responsibility, in real time, on the scene, and makes multiple decisions sometimes minute by minute on the operation of a vessel and the safety of the crew. Awesome responsibility -- and yet that same widdle captain gets all intimidated and pressured and caves-in to the big bad corporation and against his better judgment sails himself and his crew into potentially fatal situations because he can't assert himself? Yeah yeah, I know, he has a mortgage to pay, etc. Almost all of us need our jobs at least for some period of time, that doesn't mean I'd risk my life or the lives of my employees because of "corporate pressure." I may lose my house in foreclosure if the shipping company fires me for being cautious but that 5,000 square foot house does me no good either if I'm fish food on the bottom of the ocean.
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:36 PM   #17
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Interesting how so often when we're discussing commercial shipping disasters (as opposed to recreational incidents) it divides into the company bashers and those whose place the responsibility on the captain. I've never worked commercial shipping but when these debates break out, I usually have the same thought -- a captain is charged with life and death responsibility, in real time, on the scene, and makes multiple decisions sometimes minute by minute on the operation of a vessel and the safety of the crew. Awesome responsibility -- and yet that same widdle captain gets all intimidated and pressured and caves-in to the big bad corporation and against his better judgment sails himself and his crew into potentially fatal situations because he can't assert himself? Yeah yeah, I know, he has a mortgage to pay, etc. Almost all of us need our jobs at least for some period of time, that doesn't mean I'd risk my life or the lives of my employees because of "corporate pressure." I may lose my house in foreclosure if the shipping company fires me for being cautious but that 5,000 square foot house does me no good either if I'm fish food on the bottom of the ocean.
It's easy to say "I would have" when you've never been there....

Also very judgemental to assume he was making all this money and some 5000 sqft house.
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:38 PM   #18
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I don't believe they outright said that
I do. I have been involved in conversations that went EXACTLY like that.
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Old 10-02-2017, 01:01 PM   #19
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Whether or not the company said a sissy boo or had lightning bolts shoot from the heavens....threatening job security.......hmmmmmm...

I have been asked more times than I can remember to do something risky, involving my death, and maybe others too.

Through helo missions or towing or salvage jobs......the question would come up and I would get a queasy feeling.

I was fortunate that saying no probably never would have cost me my job, so many times I just said no. But many times I said yes even though the odds weren't so strong that I could guarantee anybody anything.

Saying no is a tricky thing.....someone is thought to be really good because they have mastered the odds, till they dont......then they are a bum for not fullfiling their responsibility.

I feel that I was prerty good at things I did, but in all fairness, I was lucky too. Out of all those times that I risked it......a bigger wave, a stronger gust of wind, an engine cough, etc...etc were all that stood between me and catastophe.

So yes, I say thanks to those who watch over me .....for me, but in the long run the thanks is for allowing everyone all those years that were counting on me to come home safe too.

Responsibility is a moving target....I am not sure anyone that makes a decision that ultimately can kill someone else ever can work hard enough to be perfect.
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Old 10-02-2017, 01:27 PM   #20
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Interesting how so often when we're discussing commercial shipping disasters (as opposed to recreational incidents) it divides into the company bashers and those whose place the responsibility on the captain. I've never worked commercial shipping but when these debates break out, I usually have the same thought -- a captain is charged with life and death responsibility, in real time, on the scene, and makes multiple decisions sometimes minute by minute on the operation of a vessel and the safety of the crew. Awesome responsibility -- and yet that same widdle captain gets all intimidated and pressured and caves-in to the big bad corporation and against his better judgment sails himself and his crew into potentially fatal situations because he can't assert himself? Yeah yeah, I know, he has a mortgage to pay, etc. Almost all of us need our jobs at least for some period of time, that doesn't mean I'd risk my life or the lives of my employees because of "corporate pressure." I may lose my house in foreclosure if the shipping company fires me for being cautious but that 5,000 square foot house does me no good either if I'm fish food on the bottom of the ocean.
Well, I'm an equal opportunity basher. I think the Captain absolutely should be held accountable and you don't risk the lives of others for any amount of money as difficult as that may be. Fear of loss of job just isn't a reason. We'll never know what thoughts led to the captain's decisions or how much he was influenced by various factors. His acts were clearly wrong.

I also bash the companies that allow their employees to put themselves in harms ways and, in some cases, even encourage it through their history of actions and responses.

It's an ugly environment and culture many companies create and unfortunately a few captains sell their souls to the company without even realizing it. Everyone working on this vessel for TOTE was scared of not having a job when it was moved to Alaska. The captain was and the crew was scared of the captain which is common to pass the fear and stress on down the line.

The goal obviously is to prevent such events from happening again. Fines and new rules may help. However, they don't send nearly the message that criminal charges do.

Good companies have hotlines or whistleblower numbers which lead outside the company and on which the employee's identity is protected.
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