Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser collision investigation

Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

Portsmouth, Va. – U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area has taken final action on the investigation involving the at-sea collision of the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser (WPC 1116) and the 23-foot vessel Desakata.

The collision occurred on August 8, 2022, at approximately 1:45pm, four miles northeast of Dorado, Puerto Rico. The Desakata had two persons onboard, and the collision resulted in the injury of one person and the fatality of one other aboard the Desakata.

Vice Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, convened a major incident investigation on August 11, 2022. The major incident investigation board president determined that the mishap was caused because neither the USCGC Winslow Griesser nor the Desakata saw one another and, as a result, failed to take appropriate action that could have avoided or reduced the severity of the collision. The report outlines a number of factors that contributed to the failure of the vessels to see one another and avoid colliding resulting in this unfortunate accident.

This investigation was convened to assist in the adjudication of any claims in favor of, or against the United States, and to determine whether punitive or adverse administrative action should be taken against any persons whose negligence or misconduct contributed to the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board, with the cooperation of the Coast Guard, also convened an independent investigation into the collision to determine the cause of the accident and make recommendations to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Following the collision, the commanding officer of Winslow Griesser, Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Williamsz, was temporarily relieved of his duties. Based on the findings of this investigation, Rear Adm. David C. Barata, commander of the Coast Guard’s Personnel Service Center at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., permanently relieved Williamsz as commanding officer, on May 9, 2023, citing a loss of confidence in Williamsz’s ability to effectively command the cutter. Williamsz was recently reassigned to his new duty station in Washington state. Lt. Vincent Deegan has assumed permanent command of the cutter.

The Coast Guard Atlantic Area’s major incident investigation report can be viewed here.

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