USCG can’t use the best equipment

The USCG is banned from using “essential night-vision technology” because they are part of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense. Hopefully they can get this straightened out and get on with their marine safety mission.

Coast Guard banned from necessary technology because it is not part of DoD

Ever since the Coast Guard was moved over to Homeland Security their marine safety mission has taken a back seat to pushing paper. This has to be frustrating for all involved and dangerous for those who depend on their services.

Happy Birthday

It’s August 4, 2015- the 225th birthday of the United States Coast Guard. We deal with the USCG on a daily basis, either directly or through their regulations and over our 31 years of being in business our relationship has always been professional and helpful.

Here are a couple of things many don’t know about the USCG:

  • Only one member of the Coast Guard has been awarded the Medal of Honor. His name is Douglas Munro and he was born in Cle Elum, WA. If you go there today you will see plenty of evidence the town still remembers him. I have often wondered what a young man from Eastern Washington was thinking when he enlisted in the Coast Guard, there isn’t much open water over there. If you want to read about him the USCG site has lots of articles.
  • The USCG has many civilian employees who make many of the decisions. Many of the vessel inspectors have been civilians. Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C. also has provided us with men and women who give that long term vision that one doesn’t get when you are rotated every few years. The unique mix really is an asset not found elsewhere.

When writing this I also noticed that today is the 54th birthday of the Coast Guard’s Commander in Chief. Hopefully he will hold a good wish for the USCG as they share this day.

The USCG on Boating Safety

The USCG has issued their 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics, a 79 page document telling us all about deaths and accidents. The good news is there were less deaths in 2012 than in 2011 but there are a number of other items that caught my attention.

  • Booze was the major contributing factor in accidents. It was a factor in 109 deaths and 227 injuries.
  • In my home state of Washington, there were twice as many deaths in 2012 compared to 2011.
  • Deaths offshore dropped from 7 in 2011 to 2 in 2012. I guess being offshore is a pretty safe place to be.
  • Of the 459 individuals who drowned, 379 were NOT wearing life jackets.

There is a lot of information in this report but if I was to take away two things they would be:

  1. Pay attention to what you are doing
  2. Wear your life jacket

It has been shown that most accidents are the result of a number of things going wrong at the same time. When we hear of a miraculous event where a disaster has been averted many times this is due to eliminating one or two minor issues by being attentive and thinking quickly and decisively.

Let’s hope that the 2013 report shows a positive trend with less accidents and less deaths.

Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus News

Cal_June_22_Person_Life_Float

Congress has just passed the 2012 Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act and it includes one major change regarding the required transition from life floats to inflatable buoyant apparatus (IBA’s). Prior to this act all US Flag vessels that were required to carry life floats would have had to change to carrying IBA’s by January 1, 2015. This date has now been put on hold pending further data collection.

If you want to read the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act of 2012 the link will take you to the Library of Congress download. The section regarding IBA’s is on page 24.

I still feel that life floats are not an adequate piece of life saving equipment since they do not get victims out of the water. Hypothermia sets in rapidly and the consumption of alcohol worsens your chances (since many life floats are used on “party boats”, alcohol consumption is prevalent) of survival. The main reason life floats are so common is their cost. They are less expensive to purchase and do not require annual servicing like an IBA.