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ON FEBRUARY 12, 1983, THE 605-FOOT U.S. BULK CARRIER MARINE ELECTRIC CAPSIZED AND SANK DURING A STORM IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN ABOUT 30 NAUTICAL MILES EAST OF CHINCOTEAGUE, VIRGINIA. THIRTY-FOUR PERSONS WERE ABOARD. THREE PERSONS SURVIVED THE ACCIDENT, AND THE BODIES OF 24 PERSONS WERE RECOVERED. THE OTHER SEVEN PERSONS ARE MISSING AND PRESUMED DEAD. THE MARINE ELECTRIC CURRENTLY IS RESTING IN THREE PIECES ON THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN IN ABOUT 120 FEET OF WATER; ITS ESTIMATED VALUE, INCLUDING THE CARGO, WAS $12 MILLION.
THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE U.S. COAST GUARD: PROVIDE WRITTEN GUIDANCE TO U.S. COAST GUARD INSPECTORS REGARDING THE INSPECTION OF VESSELS OVER 20 YEARS OF AGE, INCLUDING SPECIFIC STRUCTURAL GAUGING, EQUIPMENT RENEWAL, AND TESTING REQUIREMENTS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Atlantic Ocean, AO, United States
United States Bulk Carrier
Capsizing and Sinking About 30 Nautical Miles East of Chincoteague, Virginia
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
USCG (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
Thank you for your letter of April 13, 1987, updating the Coast Guard's position on virtually all of the safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board to the Coast Guard that have been held in an "open" status for a considerable period of time. The Safety Board shares your views concerning our mutual goals and responsibilities for improving marine transportation safety, and appreciates your candid assessment of our respective roles in achieving these goals. While we may at times disagree on the most effective measures to improve marine safety, the Safety Board agrees that maritime safety has indeed been enhanced as a result of our combined efforts. The Safety Board appreciates the significant amount of, time and effort the Coast Guard has expended in updating the "open" safety recommendations issued by the Board. We hope that after the majority.-of these outstanding recommendations have been "closed" we can work together to maintain the number of open recommendations at a reasonable level. As you know, there will always be a number of safety recommendations classified as "Open--Acceptable Action" because of ongoing measures being taken by the Coast Guard to satisfy the intent of the recommendations. The safety recommendations addressed in Enclosure (1) of the Coast Guard's April 13, 1987, letter fall into this category. These recommendations have previously been classified as "Open-- Acceptable Action" based on earlier Coast Guard submittals. When we have been advised by the Coast Guard that the intended action has been completed, the Safety Board will reevaluate the status of these recommendations. In an effort to close as many of the "open" recommendations that should be closed based on action taken by the Coast Guard, this letter will address the majority of the safety recommendations 1isted in enclosure (2) of the Coast Guard's April 13, 1987, letter. These recommendations were previously classified as "Open--Acceptable Action" or "Open--Acceptable Alternate Action" pending the completion of action to be taken by the Coast Guard to satisfy the intent of the recommendations. A total of 84 of these recommendations have now been classified as either "Closed--Acceptable Action" or "Closed--Acceptable Alternate Action" based on the updated information contained in the Coast Guard's Enclosure (2), and are classified and listed chronologically in the enclosure to this letter. The remainder of the safety recommendations in Enclosure (2) as well as all of the recommendations in Enclosure (3) to the Coast Guard's April 13, 1987, letter will require further review, and will be addressed in future correspondence. The Safety Board looks forward to continuing its cooperative working relationship with the Coast Guard.
The Safety Board is pleased that the Coast Guard intends to revise its Marine Safety Manual to place additional emphasis on inspection procedures for vessels over 20 years old. This effort is considered a positive response toward meeting the intent of this recommendation. Safety Recommendation M-84-5 will, therefore, be classified as “Open-Acceptable Action.” We would appreciate receiving a copy of the revised portion of the Marine Safety Manual covering this subject when it becomes available.
USCG LETTER: THE COAST GUARD CONCURS WITH THE INTENT OF THIS RECOMMENDATION. WRITTEN GUIDANCE REGARDING THE INSPECTION OF AGED VESSELS IS PROVIDED TO COAST GUARD INSPECTORS IN THE MARINE SAFETY MANUAL (MSM, PART 30-6-20B(3). THE MANUAL STATES THAT THE "DETERMINATION OF THE TRUE CONDITION OF A VESSEL AND HER EQUIPMENT IS SOMETIMES DIFFICULT, PARTICULARLY WHEN THE VESSEL HAS AGED." IT IS INTENDED TO REMIND COAST GUARD MARINE INSPECTORS THAT VESSELS WILL DEVELOP PROBLEMS BECAUSE OF THIER AGE AND SHOULD BE MORE CLOSELY EXAMINED. HOWEVER, BECAUSE PRESENT GUIDANCE IN THE MSM DOES NOT EMPHASIZE OLDER VESSELS INCLUDING VESSELS OVER 20 YEARS OF AGE, IT WILL BE REVISED TO REQUIRE CLOSER SCRUTINY OF ALL OLDER VESSELS. THIS POLICY REVISION WILL REINFORCE THE REVIEW OF THE COMPLETE RECORDS OF ALL INSPECTIONS FOR CERTIFICATION, DRYDOCKINGS AND REINSPECTIONS ON VESSLES OVER 20 YEARS OF AGE INITIATED AT COAST GUARD HEADQUARTERS ON AUGUST 1, 1983. FUTHERMORE, SENIOR EXPERIENCED MARINE SAFETY PERSONNEL ARE DISPATCHED FROM COAST GUARD HEADQUARTERS TO PORTS AROUND THE COUNTRY TO (1) EXAMINE THE OVERALL CONDITION OF THESE OLDER VESSELS AND (2) EVALUATE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE LOCAL MARINE INSPECTION PERSONNEL.
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