NTSB: Inadequate Lookouts Led to Collision Between US Coast Guard Cutter and Small Boat Off Puerto Rico

Are USCG implementing BRM on their cutters:

“Lookout? Somebody else is doing that”

Ahh life at sea is comfortable these days:

What is wrong here?

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Here’s the NTSB’s report: Inadequate Lookouts Led to Collision Between US Coast Guard Cutter and Small Boat Off Puerto Rico

The CG’s report is here

Two people on watch, both distracted by other duties. Fishing vessel lost to sight at times in 2 meter seas and white vessel in sea with white caps. Sighting the F/V in time would have required a continuous watch forward.

An issue cited by the CG report is the small blind spots in the view forward and be. An occasional quick glance ahead would not suffice in this case


Required moving some for a full view forward.

Why I bought an AIS transponder, if you aren’t on the screen you don’t exist.
Also telling everyone to do something is the exact same as telling no one to do it.

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That’s absolutely true.

If you are not coming up on Class A AIS you don’t exist.

The quality of the typical visual watch is very low. Too many other duties, boredom, and distractions. Far far too much light in the wheelhouse at night from too many overly bright screens.

Electing not to transmit on AIS is like riding a motorcycle in a snow storm on black ice without a helmet.

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This is from the gCaptain article:

"The NTSB noted that Coast Guard practice is that all members of the bridge watch are responsible for shared lookout duties,"

But that’s not what the report says - from the report:

“According to one of the cutter’s qualified quartermasters of the watch, at least one watchstander, by practice, was to keep an eye forward for hazards at all times”

Its the same on a merchant ship with two watchstanders. There’s a mate on watch (OICNW) and an AB. Sometimes the AB has other duties besides lookout: helm, making coffee, cleaning the wheelhouse etc. During those times the mate is required to watch ahead.

It’s also the mate’s responsibility to be aware of what the AB is doing and whether or not a proper lookout is being maintained.


According to the NTSB the CG captain had attended a BRM class.

The NTSB lists the errors aboard the CG cutter as a failure to maintain a lookout and lack of situational awareness.

Maintaining a proper lookout is basic watchkeeping.

The lack of situational awareness was the failure to take into account the rough seas would make it more difficult to detect small targets.

The NTSB doesn’t claim that not taking the limitations of the radar into account was a BRM error.

There might not be a clear line between BRM and basic watchkeeping but no good reason to invoke BRM in the case.

One night I watched a boat come up from astern and pass us going about 35 knots. The helmsman’s face was lit up bright white by what seemed to be 3 large bright displays. There was no f-ing chance he was seeing anything that was not on his screen.