Coast Guard releases final investigation report on mariner casualty near Maui, Hawaii

Coast Guard Headquarters NewsALAMEDA, Calif. — The U.S. Coast Guard has released its Major Incident Investigation (MII) Report into a search and rescue response 26-miles south of Maui that resulted in the a death of a civilian mariner aboard the sailing vessel Kolina on Nov. 5, 2015.

The mishap victim was a 71-year-old man, a seasoned mariner, who lived aboard the vessel with the last known address in Kawaihae Boat Park, Honolulu, Hawaii.

His death was ruled a traumatic head injury sustained during a vessel tow. Unbeknownst to the responding Coast Guard cutter’s crew, the mishap victim tethered himself to a jury-rigged mast while his vessel was under tow during 8- to 10-foot seas.  During the course of the tow the mast snapped, causing the fatal injury.

“Any loss of life is a cause for reflection, and the Coast Guard has completed an investigation to determine any factors to improve our response capabilities in the future,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander. “The sea is dangerous and unpredictable; regular vessel safety checks help mitigate some of that danger.”

The MII investigation board was initiated Nov. 18, 2015, to inquire into the facts surrounding the mishap.

In its summary findings, the MII board found Kolina lacked any deck fittings to attach the towline, so the mariner attached the towline to a jury-rigged mast improperly supported with polypropylene line in lieu of wire-rope standing rigging. This arrangement was insufficient to withstand the forces generated during the towing evolution and the jury-rigged mast snapped.

The MII report is an official government record. It is not a legal determination of the Coast Guard’s position concerning this mishap. A copy of the report is publicly available in the Coast Guard’s FOIA reading room at or clicking here.

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.