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Coast Guard Announces Award Winners for Excellence in Marine Investigations

The Coast Guard announced the winners of the Congressman James Sener Award for Excellence in Marine Investigations. The investigators cited below are recognized for conducting the most distinguished marine casualty investigations for CY20.

The Coast Guard’s Marine Investigations program has been a vital arm of its marine safety activities since 1838 when the program’s predecessor, the Steamboat Inspection Service, was established. In 1832 alone, approximately 14 percent of the steam vessels in operation were destroyed by explosions that also killed more than 1,000 people. The conditions leading to these explosions occurred largely because there were no inspection standards in place. In some cases, mariner incompetence, negligence, and/or misconduct were causal factors. As a result, the U.S. Congress established inspection laws and created the Steamboat Inspection Service. Congressman James Sener of Virginia sponsored the legislation that created the modern Marine Investigations program on 20 June 1874. Congressman Sener’s bill established an exceptionally effective system for identifying and eliminating unsafe conditions in the marine transportation system. The Sener Award honors and recalls his contribution to the safety of mariners, vessels, and the marine environment by recognizing truly exceptional marine casualty investigations.

The criteria for the Platinum level of the Sener Award recognizes superior investigative prowess on Major Marine Casualty (MMC) investigations, while the Gold level highlights outstanding investigative work completed on incidents that do not reach the MMC level.

The following teams are the 2020 winners of the Congressman James Sener Award for Excellence in
Marine Investigations:

Platinum MISLE Case/Vessel: 6291947/BOUCHARD BARGE B NO. 255
FIRE EXPLOSION AND LOSS OF LIFE
Convening Authority: Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District
Lead Investigator: Mr. Bruce Davies
Investigative team: LCDR Mary Gilday, LCDR Geralyn van de
Kroll, and CWO4 Jess Farmer

Platinum MISLE Case/Vessel: 6618087/SINKING OF THE COMMERCIAL
FISHING VESSEL MISTRESS WITH LOSS OF LIFE
Convening Authority: Sector Southeastern New England
Lead Investigator: LCDR Amanda Styles
Investigative team: CWO2 Jean-Pierre Freeman, and
Mr. Michael St. Louis

Gold MISLE Case/Vessel: 6351522/ COMMERCIAL TOWING VESSEL
NC2305BR CAPSIZING WITH LOSS OF LIFE
Convening Authority: Sector North Carolina
Lead Investigator: LT Jacob Aulner
Investigative Team: LCDR William Hickey, LT John Packard,
LTJG Evan Bledsoe, and Mr. Hector Pacheco

Honorable Mention MISLE Case/Vessel: 6442135/DIVERSION LOSS
OF LIFE
Convening Authority: Sector North Carolina
Lead Investigator: LT Jacob Aulner
Investigation Team: CWO4 David Getchell

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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