Offshore InjuryBlog

Marine Casualty Investigation Ordered for Kulluk Accident

Only one day before the start of the 2013 year, disaster struck on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island in Alaska. It was December 31, 2012 when things went awry for the drilling unit Kulluk, and formal investigations into the matter have not died down since. Half a month after the disastrous incident, Rear Adm. T.P. Ostebo, commander of the Coast Guard's 17th District, has officially ordered a formal marine casualty investigation into the matter, looking specifically at circumstances and contributing factors that might have led to the grounding of the Kulluk drilling unit.

Led by an investigating officer of the Coast Guard, the formal marine casualty investigation will be convened in response to the considerable regional significance of the vessel's impact. The investigation could also signify vessel class problems as well as provide a means for assessing the technical issues that could have contributed to the incident that wreaked havoc on New Year's Eve. The formal investigation will be supported by the technical advisement provided by both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Bureau of safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

The pending investigation intends to fully dive into the conditions of the vessel in question, probing every aspect involved in the incident, right down to looking for evidence of misconduct and / or willful violations of the law. More specifically, investigators will evaluate factors associated with the Kulluk and its support vessels, hoping to determine as best as possible all of the following points:

  • Whether or not a failure of material caused or contributed to the disaster (this could be physical material or design material)
  • Whether or not a particular person caused or contributed to the cause of the accident
  • Whether or not misconduct, negligence, inattention to duties, and / or willful violation of the law took part in the casualties that were suffered during the accident

Of the highest concern for Coast Guard investigators, however, will be looking to discover the true cause of the accident. This will require the investigative team to look at the full scope of the incident, right down to the towing vessels, towing equipment, personnel, and vessel procedures related to the now-grounded Kulluk. With such a lofty task under way, it is expected for the casualty investigation to take several months to complete. The final findings of the investigation, however, will better position the Coast Guard to take appropriate remedial action.

It has been confirmed by Unified Command that the Kulluk has arrived in its final safe harbor destination – Kiliuda Bay – where it is expected to remain for assessment. In the weeks and months pending completion of the Coast Guard's formal marine casualty investigation, speculators will have to wait before fully assessing the incident that caused disaster less than a month ago. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we recognize that this interim time period could prove to be quite difficult for those who personally suffered or were adversely affected in any way. As such, we would like to extend our legal services and personal support to those in need.

Abundantly successful in our past efforts to secure compensation on behalf of injured maritime and offshore victims, we are prepared to do the same for you. Following the guidance of an offshore injury attorney at our firm, you can more confidently pursue an injury claim or lawsuit for the damages that were sustained in an unexpected accident of any nature. In all cases, we are here to help those who have been wrongfully harmed, and we are willing to fight on your behalf. To learn more about your rights as a maritime or offshore worker, don't wait to contact us today.

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