Crane Fatality: Commanding Officer Temporarily Relieved of Duty
The U.S. Coast Guard has released the results of an investigation into the January 31 crane accident in the Coast Guard buoy yard in Homer, which resulted in the death of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kozloski.
The investigation found improper operation of the shoreside crane was the direct cause of the mishap - neither of the two men operating the crane were qualified to perform the duties being undertaken. Kozloski, in conversation with another within the operating envelope, was struck by the toppling crane after a lift exceeding its capabilities was attempted. The investigation revealed leadership deficiencies aboard the Cutter Hickory which contributed to inadequate crewmember training and complacency with shoreside operations.
Rear Adm. Matthew T. Bell Jr., commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, temporarily relieved the commanding officer of Homer-based Cutter Hickory citing a loss of confidence in the officer’s ability to perform his duties.
“Command positions overseeing Coast Guard units, such as the Cutter Hickory, are among the most important and challenging assignments in our service,” said Bell. “Commanding officers are entrusted with tremendous authority and responsibility to ensure operational success, good order and discipline and crew safety.”
The relief of a commanding officer by a district commander is a temporary administrative action followed by a formal review from Coast Guard Headquarters.
“We are continuing to review the results of the investigation, which identified causative factors that will help us prevent future incidents,” said Vice Adm. L. L. Fagan, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, who convened the major incident investigation. “The Coast Guard is committed to the professional operation of our units and the safety of our members and the American public."
The investigation report is available here.