Thursday, June 11, 2009

Taking Charge: & now we know why it took so long for the Service to release the report

Very interesting news about the sinking of the F/V PATRIOT and the response from America's smallest military branch. From CG News: [Service] releases results of investigation into fishing vessel Patriot response efforts.
The commander of the . . . Atlantic Area here released Thursday the final action memo detailing the results of an administrative investigation into the [Service]’s response efforts during a January search and rescue case off the coast of Gloucester, Mass.

Matteo Russo and John Orlando died when their 54-foot commercial fishing vessel, the Patriot, sank about 14 nautical miles southeast of Gloucester, Jan. 3.

“Our review of this case showed that we were slow to launch search and rescue assets because of poor collection and analysis of information, and decision making regarding the Patriot’s status,” said Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr. “The remedial actions I’m requiring are designed to ensure that our people have the right tools, experience and training to be able to act quickly and decisively when emergent and unpredictable cases happen.”
Wow. Slow to launch. Poor collection & analysis. Poor decision making.

CC/RCC watches, no matter the level within the organization, can be a crucible. Often, controllers will breath a sigh of relief: "But for the grace of God, there go I..."
A copy of the Final Action Memo, which includes all of Papp’s opinions and required actions, can be downloaded/viewed at:
Great read.
In January, the . . . 1st District in Boston initiated a Search and Rescue Case Study to review the Patriot case. But by April Papp was becoming anxious to know what issues had been found.
I'll bet. I know a reporter at a little newspaper that was hot on the trail and throwing gasoline on the fire making certain everyone knew there was more to be learned than what had already been released.
“A [Coastie/Guardian] never wants to lose anyone while on watch, and I wanted to know what issues had been found so we could begin to implement any needed changes to operations in my area of responsibility,” said Papp. “I asked for a working copy of the case study and when I noted the extent of the 1st District command center’s involvement in the case I made the decision to convene an administrative investigation. Assigning an independent, third-party investigator to maximize the amount of information available and ensure there was an additional, independent level of review, gave us a broader look at all aspects of our response to the Patriot case,” added Papp.
I applaud Admiral Papp, Atlantic Area, and the Service for taking such an open view and perspective. And, while I know the family and community was upset with the pace, hopefully they are, now that they have been personally briefed, more understanding of why the delay.
“We are committed to providing the best service possible to the maritime community, and reviewing unusual cases like the Patriot helps us to improve our search and rescue operations,” said Papp.

. . .

“I have personally spoken with Mrs. Russo to pass on my condolences for her family’s loss, and to express my regret for the length of time this investigation has taken,” said Papp. “I also sent a team earlier today to personally share the final report with them and answer any additional questions. The Russo and Orlando families have my commitment that this review of our response will help us perform more effectively and decisively, even during uncertainty, and may one day help to save someone’s life.”
May we, indeed, be a learning organization and take these findings, opinions, and required actions to heart, fully internalizing them.

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