NEW LONDON, Conn. — On October 20, Dr. Peter Eident will address officer candidates at the Coast Guard Academy chapel to honor the eleven sailors who gave their lives on Oct. 20, 1978 when the Coast Guard Cutter Cuyahoga sank at the mouth of the Potomac River. The service will be at 10 a.m. and is open to the public and the media.
Eident was sailing aboard the Cuyahoga, an officer candidate training platform, as an officer candidate when the cutter collided with an Argentine coal freighter. At the time, the Cuyahoga mishap was the worse peace-time accident in Coast Guard history.
“There is lot we can learn today from this tragedy,” said Eident, who wrote the book, “Bearing Drift,” on his experience surviving the Cuyahoga disaster. “While the technology has changed, most accidents are now caused by a combination of systemic failure and multiple human errors, although we would all like to blame just someone. Mistakes that turn into disasters require a chain of events, or as the Coast Guard calls it, ‘The error chain’.”
Eident’s message to OCS is, “The error chain must be broken.”
Following the ceremony, Eident will offer guests a tour of the Cuyahoga memorial, a replica of Cuyahoga’s bridge, built using equipment recovered from Cuyahoga’s actual bridge. Eident will then be available for interviews with the media. An officer candidate instructor will also be available for interviews to explain the lessons learned and changes made to Coast Guard training and cutter operations following the Cuyahoga incident.