Archive for December 2012

USCG MH-60 Helicopter

USCG MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter
USCG image

The U.S. Coast Guard has long touted the downward slope in annual BARD (USCG’s Boating Accident Report Database) fatalities as a measure of improvements brought about by:

  • Regulations
  • Law enforcement presence
  • Boater education
  • Boating safety programs
  • Improvements in boating equipment

USCG reported 1,754 recreational boating fatalities in 1973 (the highest number of fatalities since 1970). Annual fatalities gradually dropped to 821 in 1997. Annual reported fatalities have bounced around a little since 1997, but continued their gradual decline to 672 in 2010.

The Coast Guard and other boating safety organizations were hoping for a continued decline in 2011. They anticipated the safety programs in place, plus the poor economy (fewer people boating) and high price of gas (boating fewer times for shorter durations) would result in a landmark low number. However, 2011 came in at 758 deaths, a total unequaled since 1998. Read More→

Is the Additional Cross Sectional Area of a Propeller Guard a Significant Hazard or is the Industry Grasping at Straws?

NBSAC89 Propeller Guard Diameter Sketch

NBSAC89 Propeller Guard Diameter Sketch

The boating industry has long cited the increased cross sectional area of propeller guards vs. the cross sectional area of an open propeller as an added risk. They say the increased area would result in blunt trauma injuries to people that would have just missed being struck by the propeller. The industry claims this added risk overwhelms any possible benefits provided by the propeller guard in recreational boating applications at speeds above just a few miles per hour.

This post discusses five major flaws in the boating industry’s argument.

1. The math behind the boating industry’s historical calculations was wrong.

2. They neglect the cross sectional area of the boat hull.

3. The industry encourages higher horsepower drives and their associated larger diameter propellers.

4. They encourage twin and triple drives.

5. They can cite no examples of near miss propeller strikes that would have hit a propeller guard.
Read More→

1 Categories : Legal Shorts

Back in February 2010, Oliver Minchin, a 19 year old military cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy was participating with other cadets in fast water insertion training (jumping in while underway at speed) from a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) on Lake Burrinjuck. Minchin was severely struck by the propeller. His father, a well known senator, stepped down from politics in part to care for his son during his long recovery.

Comcare, Australia’s version of the the United States’ Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), sued the Defence Force and the Australian Defence Academy for unsafe practices regarding the accident.

On 13 December 2012 Federal Court of Australia decided Comcare v. Commonwealth of Australia. Judge John Griffiths levied a $210,000 AU (Australian dollars) fine against the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) for not having propeller guards on the boat involved in the Minchin accident. He also awarded Comcare their costs. As of December 2012, one Australian dollar is equal to just a little more than one U.S. dollar. ($1AU = $1.05 US). Read More→

2 Categories : Legal Shorts

Casey Schulman’s Anchorage Dive Center charter boat propeller accident in Dominica was not the first one.

The recent Casey Schulman propeller accident in Dominica involving a large Sail Cat on a Snorkel & Party charter has been called a “freak accident” by the media and even by the tour boat company involved.

Anchorage Dive Center Sail Cat

Anchorage Dive Center Sailing Catamaran
involved in the Casey Schulman accident

Anchorage, the charter boat operation involved issued a December 6, 2012 statement:

The Directors, Management and Staff of the Anchorage Hotel, Whale Watch and Dive Centre are deeply saddened by the fact that on Saturday 1st December 2012, Miss Casey Schulman, a cruise ship client on MV Explorer and a guest on their Catamaran Sail & Snorkel Cruise had a freak accident off Mero beach.

The boating industry, boat livery/rental industry, charter and tour boat industry, and the media have long referred to propeller accidents as freak accidents. Some suggest they are really trying to say “all is well, boating is safe, this was just a freak accident, keep spending your money here.” The media in boating / diving tourism locales often suppress boat accidents from the news or only briefly notes their occurrence. Newspapers and other media outlets in these areas do not want to alienate their advertisers that make money from activities on or near the water.

The Schulman accident, per the statement released by Anchorage, involved a large chartered sail catamaran. This type of vessel is often called a Sail Cat. Sail Cats of this size are typically used for diving, snorkeling, and party platforms by tour boat / charter boat operations near well known diving destinations (Cozumel, Belize, Hawaii, The Great Barrier Reef, Florida Keys, other Caribbean islands, etc.). Many Sail Cats have propulsion engines in the stern of each of their twin hulls, often near the steps used to board the vessel from the water. Sail Cat captains use the engines for navigating in close and for sailing charters when the wind is not cooperating. These large Sail Cats and their companion powered catamarans (similar boat without a sail) have been involved in many propeller accidents.

We provide list of some chartered Sail Cat and powered catamaran propeller accidents below so the hazards of an exposed propeller in these situations can be better understood Read More→

The recent December 2012 Casey Schulman propeller accident is reminiscent of many other diving and snorkeling tourist prop strikes in diving / snorkeling areas. These regions of the world often lack quick emergency response teams, paramedics, life flight, trauma centers, advanced medical care, and blood supplies. Boats are usually not registered and no boating safety training is required. Governments in these regions have been accused of covering up evidence and making it difficult for families to resolve what really happened, especially when their prominent local citizens, local government officials, or local military personnel may have caused the accident. Legal recourse against potentially negligent parties is often very difficult to impossible. Often those thought to be responsible for causing the accident walk away scot-free.

The incidents reported below tell some of these tales, including asking residents of the hotel divers were staying in for blood because no supplies were available and one boat operator telling the diver he just ran over that he (the boat operator) would be holding him (the diver) responsible for the damages caused to his boat.

Dive Boat in Hong Kong

Large Dive Boat in Hong Kong That Was Involved in a Propeller Accident

We created this page to start accumulating a list of these accidents. We will be adding to it as time permits. The list focuses on tourist being struck by a propeller in a diving / snorkeling, water tourism area outside of their own country.

Tourists Struck by Propellers in Diving and Snorkeling Areas Outside the U.S.

Read More→

Terrell Horne

United States Coast Guard Executive Petty Officer Terrell Horne
boarding the Halibut after water survival training
USCG photo

Executive Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, age 34 of Redondo Beach, was second in command on the Halibut, a 87 foot Marina del Rey based Coast Guard Cutter. The Halibut patrols about three hundred miles of southern California coastline and provides security for the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach.

Officer Horne served as a Chief Boatswain’s Mate (BMC).

About 11:30 pm Saturday, December 1, 2012, a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft on routine patrol spotted a recreational boat near Smugglers Cove, Santa Cruz Island, California. They contacted the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Halibut that was already operating in the region.

Halibut, a USCG Cutter

Halibut, a USCG Cutter
USCG photo

The Halibut found and boarded the recreational boat. Two individuals suspected of smuggling drugs were onboard. They also found several extra containers of fuel, suspected to be used in refueling drug or illegal alien smuggling operations.

The C-130 then reported spotting about a 30 foot panga boat (an outboard powered opened bowed fishing boat) at Smugglers Cove with two men on board and without navigation lights. Read More→

Casey Schulman

Casey Schulman

Casey Shulman, 22 year old fourth year University of Virginia (UVA) student from Falls Church Virginia, spent the Fall 2012 semester on a 14 week “Semester at Sea” program. The semester for this University of Virginia program was winding down in early December 2012. Their vessel, the MV Explorer, with 54 UVA students on board along with hundreds of students from other Universities was completing its Fall 2012 Atlantic Exploration voyage and stopped in Dominica about 7am Saturday December 1, 2012. Dominica is a small Caribbean island locally billed as “Nature Island” near Martinique, just south of Puerto Rico. The area is well known for its snorkeling and diving attractions.

About 9am, a group of students hired a boat from Anchorage Dive Center captained by Andrew Armour, for a snorkeling expedition off Soufriere. The trip was not part of the “Semester at Sea” program. The students snorkeled then went to the west end of the island near Mero where they lounged on the boat, played in the water, and rested on the beach. Mero is about five miles from Roseau, Dominica’s capital and largest city.

About 2:30 pm while Casey Schulman was in the water, the boat had picked up some food and was reversing when she was struck by the propeller. She was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital, and pronounced dead. Initial reports say Casey Schulman “sustained injuries all over her body.” Read More→