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WASHINGTON — Failure by a Coast Guard boat operator to drive his boat in a safe manner consistent with standard navigation and operating procedures caused a boat collision that killed an 8-year-old boy and injured 10 other boaters, Dec. 20, 2009, during the San Diego Parade of Lights in San Diego Harbor, according to a Coast Guard final action memo released here, Jan. 31.
The memo also outlined three additional contributing factors, including failure of the Coast Guard crew to perform their duties, failure of the crew to follow standard risk management practices and a poor command climate at Coast Guard Station San Diego.
As a result, the memo directs five actions including a review of existing risk management policy and adding case studies to the service’s command cadre and boat operator training curriculum to ensure lessons learned from the collision are engrained in students to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
“No words or deeds can atone for the death of a young boy, or for the pain caused to his family; we can only affirm our resolve to ensure nothing like this happens again,” said Vice Adm. John P. Currier, vice commandant of the Coast Guard.
The purpose of the investigation was to identify and better understand the factors that led to the collision and what can be done to prevent future mishaps.
A Coast Guard 33-foot Special Purpose Craft - Law Enforcement boat was responding to a report of a grounded sailing vessel in the harbor when it collided with a 24-foot Sea Ray recreational boat carrying 13 people in San Diego Harbor.
Three Coast Guardsmen aboard the small boat were tried by court martial and found guilty of violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The boat driver was found guilty of dereliction of duty, May 23, 2011, reduced in rank and sentenced to three months in the U.S. Naval Brig, Miramar, Calif. The other two crewmembers were also found guilty of dereliction of duty and received punishment ranging from 30 days confinement to quarters and forfeiture of rank and pay, to a letter of reprimand.
The final action memo available online in the Coast Guard’s FOIA reading room by clicking here or going to the reading room website at www.uscg.mil/foia/.