Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Marine safety and environmental stewardship are closely associated

Marine safety and environmental stewardship are closely associated when you look closely at the Coast Guard's marine investigation data for a period of time, say 10 years.  In fact, between 2001 and 2010 the Coast Guard's data from almost 21,000 vessel oil spills shows that 97.3% of the spill volume is attributed to just 5.2% of the incidents which involved a marine casualty (an incident resulting in a death or severe injury, loss of vessel or major damage).  Non-casualty spills occur much more frequently, but average much much less in volume.  Non-casualty incidents involve a human error such as inattention during fueling, or a material failure such as a hull crack or hose failure without a catastrophic event.

Interestingly, marine casualties can usually be traced back to one of the same broad causal factors as the non-casualty incidents - human error and material failure.  Those 5% of the human error and material failures that released 97% of the pollution and all of the deaths and ship losses happened at really inopportune moments - such as when another ship or a bridge is in the way, or a spark ignites the cargo vapors, or the weather is particularly bad.

The Coast Guard does not collect near-miss incident data (as in commercial aviation), but it's very likely that such data would correlate with marine casualty data, non-casualty spill data, and routine inspection discrepancies.

Analyzing marine safety data, including oil spill and inspection data, is essential for prioritizing prevention initiatives.  Good government and good business involves investing time and money where the most benefits will result.  Even though a very small percentage of incidents are catastrophic, it pays to analyze the non-casualties and near misses, because the odds are that sooner or later recurring human errors and material failures will happen at just the wrong time and the result will be much worse than a minor oil spill or inspection discrepancy.

Disclaimer: Not my writing or research - I received these very interesting marine safety and environmental statistics via the CG Mariner Flag Forum, and thought they were worth sharing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fair winds, a welcome, and good stuff from Flotilla Northern Virginia

Prevention operations dockside - Cole Ashcraft, Emily Johnson,
Etsub Demissie, and I conduct a vessel safety check, May 2011.
Northern Virginia Shipmates,

In June we bid farewell to our absolutely superb Vice Flotilla Commander and second-in-command, Ken Doyle as he moved to Kansas to study at the Army Command and General Staff College. This is a wonderful opportunity for Ken, and though his absence leaves us a great deficit, we wish him nothing but success over the next 18 months.

I am happy to report that on August 9, Emily Johnson formally assumed duties as our new Vice Flotilla Commander of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla Northern Virginia. Ms. Johnson brings to this post her experience serving on small boats, as a vessel examiner, instructor, and as a human resources officer. She is graduate of the Coast Guard Auxiliary program at The College of William and Mary, where she served as commander of her detachment.