Another death at MSC

There has been another afloat death at Military Sealift Command this month. The first was from falling, the second seems to be while handling an UNREP line cutter.

My first thought was we all have dangerous jobs. My second was ‘shit happens.’ But two in a month?

The reality is this: the office likes to push training responsibilities on the ships. They would rather people get half-assed shipboard training. They send PowerPoint training slides out and call it good. They want the mobile training people (ATT) to come out to the ships while the ships are busy to fit in training here and there. It’s gun-decked at best. When someone dies they have a brief safety stand down and figure everything is okay again.

The two deaths were avoidable. The equipment was fine, the use of the equipment was not. Training was lacking.

Let’s see if our new RDML Wettlaufer can prevent this from from becoming a trend.


I guess that part hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. Newbies on the kingpost winches during unreps scared the hell out of me and made me keep my head on a swivel.

I wonder how much is related to fatigue. But even with a well rested crew, there are hazards everywhere

“Tumbling 25 feet” ? Is that just the reporter reaching for words or was the work some where fall protection not normally used?

Are incidents aboard MSC ships subject to any outside investigation/analysis/reporting or is it all done in house?

NCIS investigates deaths on board MSC ships. Sovereign Immunity prevents foreign officials from conducting this type of work. An old time Master I have sailed with was slapped hard for not adhering to this back in the early 2000’s while commanding and MSC contract mariner ship.

MSC is not always the benign job that box ship sailors experience. There was a guy on the USNS SUPPLY whose ankle bones were crushed when a forklift bringing slings to the helicopter deck during a VERTREP came speeding around a corner and ran over it.