Fairplay - US Coast Guard seeks tighter grip over third parties in wake of El Faro sinking


Adm Papp was…different



The USCG won’t do a damn thing. We all know that. Whenever a citizen owned [taxpayer] agency is privatized it stays privatized. There are simply too many pigs feeding at the trough to ever hope to change that. The USCG would prefer to deal with “terror”, war on drugs etc, things like that get funded with fewer questions asked. Second careers and really comfortable retirements are made by flag level officers who make the right contacts with contractors in these high dollar fields.Nobody gives a rat’s ass about a few mariners dying every decade or so as long as Joe and Jane taxpayer get their stuff delivered to the local big box store or Amazon on time.
Marine Electric, El Faro. History doesn’t repeat but it sure rhymes.


well if he reads this I want to tell him that as a US citizen mariner that I lost all confidence and faith in the USCG’s regulatory oversight of the maritime industry a full decade ago and nothing they have done in that time since has gone one micro millimeter to restore it. Frankly it was my eight years in the GoM which opened my eyes to how the Coast Guard has bent over backwards to please the owners by downright overlooking and not enforcing Federal law and regulations put in place to protect mariner’s lives and livelihoods. When the owners whine to the CG that they don’t like something the CG says “OK, we won’t worry about that then”. This corruption of the system has become so ingrained and the norm that nothing will change it short of Congress taking that oversight away but they too are every bit as corrupt as the CG and will do nothing themselves. My fellow mariner brothers and sisters are the losers and will continue to lose…this includes our lives (as did the 33 aboard the EL FARO) because you don’t care about us. Thanks for the sour persimmons brother!


Can we afford to allow them? How many millions of dollars was spent on the el faro SAR effort? How many more recovering the VDR? How many millions were spent on the investigation? How many millions were spent administering ACP? How millions will be spent now adding layers of bureaucratic oversight atop of ACP?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to hire a few dozen inspectors and train then empower them to do a good job?

Why do we keep thinking that adding money to and bolting on additional paperwork and complexity to a failing program will save future ships?

Why can’t we instead invest in top notch inspection teams and competent marine investigators willing to toe up to corporate assholes?


That is a brave statement and I thank you for it but as Sherlock Holmes said “Bravery is by far the kindest word for stupidity”.

Let me know how your next license upgrade goes for you.


I don’t think it’s stupidity personally and I don’t think you can upgrade your license higher than master unlimited but I could be wrong. Personally I think it’s really nice to see somebody with a real platform voice what is basically consensus from everything I’ve seen.


I’m also recalling the Jax USCG inspectors hammer testing the ventilation trunks (and poking a lot of holes through badly wasted steel) on El Yunkie, when they suddenly got a call from the Jax USCG headquarters ordering them to stop hammer testing. It appears that someone at Tote complained to USCG Jax that the USCG inspectors were actually doing their job too well and finding too many problems. It appears that Tote had enough influence with the JAX USCG command to get the inspectors called off. This was after the loss of El Faro. However, Tote was not able to stop the Seattle USCG from hammer testing and this led to scrapping El Yunkie.

The USCG ship inspection program has much bigger problems than ambiguous supervision of the third party inspectors from the irresponsible organizations.


John, fiscal responsibility has nothing to do with it. Heck, the US taxpayer has been paying for private tax collectors for years and they do a lousy job. These clowns cost the taxpayer WAY more money than they get for us. It’s a form of corporate welfare.

The US merchant marine fleet is small and shrinking, everyone here knows it and congress knows that. The unions are powerless, they don’t have the money, guts or numbers to put up a fight so you are left depending on your average congress critter to do something. Good luck with that. The USCG has not had and will not have enough political pressure put on them to do a thing. They may wave some memorandum around and congress might have a cursory congressional hearing but nothing will be done. Money is all that matters.


Well they didn’t hire the superintendent of Kings Point as their president because of his good looks.



Thank you John!


So clearly and unambiguously stated, John. Many thanks for putting it out there.


The USCG should not be investigating maritime casualties.
After objectively listing, and sitting though the USCG, MBI hearings in Jacksonville Florida. I returned to the hotel each day knowing the lack of support our country allows our United States Merchant Marine fleet to ship out on an antiquated fleet. Congress has allowed OUR USCG to shuffle their manpower, and assets towards terrorism, and drug interdiction. However, Our US fleet slid down a slippery slope. Policies, and procedures pertaining to the proper inspection process was not followed. The intent of the USCG, and the inspection surveyors was, they are trained, competent, engineers. Unfortunately, as i have experienced through my career as an operations supervisor at an LNG plant in NYC. I am human, (multiple operations, contractors, and environmental can, and did distract me). However, I was fortunate to have my crew whom I respected and listened to. Almost all of the time the comments directed to me from my crew was Policies, and Procedures( this Always made me stop in my tracks). This is where the ACP failed. I believe that the USCG, and the ABS was under the assumption that each party was doing their best. Satisfying their stake holders to ensure a safe journey for the vessels inspected. The Coast Guard allowed them to conduct inspections on a days notice.
I know for a fact that the Chief Engineer of the SS El Faro stated to me that “Dad, I respect the license issued to me. I don’t have to worry about the bridge. They know what their doing, and they don’t have to worry about the plant”. Tomorrow a Congressional sub committee will convene regarding the El Faro.
The NTSB provides an unbiased and independent investigation. This would also eliminate any repercussions down the line for the USCG’s investigating officers having to investigate fellow USCG officers.


Here is an articles from Safery4Sea re: ISM Code interpretation.
First the USCG’s interpretation after the El Faro:

And second the IMO guidelines for the implementation of the ISM Code:


From this side of the pond it is odd and frankly worrying that a militia should be overseeing any merchant vessels given that their ways of training, operations are not those of the vessels they seek to oversee. Also the USCG being on the NTSB is being both poacher and gamekeeper. As to implementation of reviews, whoever is doing that must have a least one-eye on their future promotions and therefore not likely to rock any boats (every pun intended).


A lot of people this side of the pond agree. Congress throws a lot of odd jobs to the CG because they get things done. The CG has many strengths with good people but having them regulate the merchant side is just a bad setup.


Months ago, I suggested that the MAIB be called in to do a thorough peer review of the NSTB and USCG reports on El Faro.

It seems obvious that neither the USCG nor the NTSB have the depth of knowledge, the skills, or long term experienced staff necessary to conduct a good investigation of a major shipping incident.

Not to mention all the ass-covering that was going on.