A Captain and Naval Architect's Summary and View on the USCG's Report on
the Sinking of the BOUNTY
By Capt. Iver Franzen, NA

As most now know, the captain of the sailing ship BOUNTY elected to get underway on
Thursday evening, October 25, 2012, from New London, CT, bound for Florida in spite of
forecasts of the developing hurricane Sandy, at that moment a Category 2 storm, centered 125
miles ESE of Nassau, Bahamas. In the pre-dawn hours on the following Monday, 123 miles SE
of Cape Hatteras and 181 miles SW of the center of Sandy, BOUNTY was foundering, had been
repeatedly knocked over on her beam ends, and all her crew were in the water trying to get
into their liferafts. Fourteen of the BOUNTY’s crew of sixteen were rescued by USCG air crews,
the fifteenth was recovered but could not be revived, and the captain is still missing. The
efforts and actions of the USCG air crews in hurricane conditions were nothing short of heroic;
that such a large percentage of the crew was successfully rescued was miraculous!

Below is a brief synopsis of the USCG 93-page final report on the sinking of the BOUNTY, dated
May 2, 2014, summarizing first their conclusions, and then their analysis that led to those
conclusions. Readers may take some of my thoughts and comments afterwards as condoning
or justifying the captain’s decision to sail. This is not the case. What I hope the reader will take
from this is a better understanding of how any captain, even a very experienced captain such
as this one, can be led astray by factors either external or self-inflicted. It can further be said
that his extensive experience might actually have become one of the factors that led him into
making the decision that he did. All who knew the captain held him in very high personal and
professional regard, and justifiably so. Therefore, to quote the USCG report, “This combined
testimony is difficult to reconcile with his decision to sail into Hurricane Sandy . . .” So, how did
this happen?

(Notes: The USCG report on the sinking kept the names of all parties and participants private
for a variety of reasons. I will therefore do the same. Comments in [brackets] are my own
thoughts or interjections, not those of the USCG.)

To summarize the USCG’s “Conclusions” section of the report, the report lists and explains the
following factors as causal to the ship foundering and sinking, and which have been grouped
into five categories, i.e., Environmental, Personnel, Equipment, Safety Standards, and the Hull.

The environmental factors were clearly the weather, specifically hurricane Sandy. Initial
contact with this weather system caused increased working of the ship, and therefore the
increased making of water. Several sails blew out, and the spanker gaff broke. A number of
the crew became seasick, and adequate rest became impossible. Later, communications were
severely hampered, and emergency preparations became very difficult. Finally, abandoning
ship became exceedingly difficult, including difficulties with survival gear and liferafts.

The next category delineates the USCG’s conclusions about those causal factors that involve
human error. They fault the ownership for insufficient expertise to properly oversee
operations. The ownership and the captain are both faulted for improper evaluation of sailing
conditions, and of the condition of the vessel and its systems. The captain was further faulted
for disregarding the tenants of prudent seamanship and the concerns of his crew, and, once
underway and well into the deteriorating situation, for waiting much too long to contact the
Coast Guard to advise them of their predicament. The USCG, in this report, characterized all of
the above as “negligence.” Also discussed was the role of the engineer, inexperienced in
marine systems, but, more importantly, inadequately oriented and briefed on this particular
vessel and its systems. Finally, it was felt that the total crew compliment was too small,
insufficiently experienced, and that some of the safety and systems training was inadequate.

There were a number of equipment problems and failures that were deemed to contribute to
the tragedy. Speed, maneuverability, and de-watering capabilities were all compromised when
the port generator and main engine shut down at about noon on Sunday. The port day tank
sight glass was found broken, but whether this contributed to the port machinery losing fuel
and shutting down is debatable. Improper transfer procedures and record-keeping/monitoring
are suspected of playing the major role here. The electric bilge pumps had been behaving
poorly even before leaving New London, and apparently this trend continued into this voyage.
Having just come out of a yard period, where considerable belowdecks work was done, it is
suspected that considerable bilge debris was present, clogging the bilge system. One of the
back-up hydraulic pumps experienced the same problem, and the other hydraulic pump was
non-operable, and had been for some time. The portable gas trash pump was operable only
for moments at a time, and was otherwise unusable because of the exhaust fumes, as it could
only pump water when used belowdecks. The SSB and INMARSAT C phone were also found to
be inoperable, and had been so for some time before getting underway.

The report talks about some safety standards concerns, one of which has to do with the
BOUNTY Crew Manual. This was written by the captain, with input from the crew, but it did
not take the form of a bona fide SMS (Safety Management System), nor was there any input
from the ownership. The USCG felt this resulted in a safety culture with “insufficient
standards.” (BOUNTY’s status as a recreational vessel precludes any official requirements for
an SMS, as well as other requirements normally applied to commercial vessels of similar type.)
Related to this is discussion of Stability Letters that had been awarded to BOUNTY as part of
the organization’s desire to have BOUNTY become certified, but which was never completed.
Stability was not considered a factor in this incident, nor was a number of ballast and tank
changes that were made after the issuance of the Stability Letter. These particular changes
would have administratively invalidated a Stability Letter, but in practice would have had little
detrimental effect on BOUNTY’s stability. Concern was also expressed over the use, or misuse,
of additional safety gear over top of the “gumby” survival suits.

The USCG concluded that the causal factors pertaining to the hull had to do with her age (52
years), and the fact that her watertight subdivision extended up to the “tween” deck only, not
to the weather deck. Consequently, when the “tween” deck became flooded, the resulting
free surface effect encompassed the entire length of the deck, not just one compartment.
This, coupled with a significant paucity of freeing ports for this deck, was the major factor in
causing the ship to dramatically oscillate between somewhat upright and laid over on her
beam ends, as well as exacerbating her pitching motions.

The USCG concluded that two additional factors were causal in the abrupt disorganization of
the abandon-ship procedure, and in the two fatalities. One was the delay in the notification to
the USCG that BOUNTY was in extremis, and the other pertained to the procrastination of the
order to abandon ship. The USCG has concluded that these factors also “constitute

While no drug testing was conducted, there was no evidence or indication that drugs or alcohol
played any role in this casualty.

The USCG also identified no violations of those regulations pertaining to recreational vessels.

The “Analysis” section of the report which led to their conclusions is most thorough, and,
again, is presented in sections. The first section deals with BOUNTY’s regulatory status and the
nature of the organization’s method of operating. Subsequent sections discuss the Captain,
the Sailing Track, Notification, the Hull and Structure, Stability and Load Line, Engine Room,
Bilge Pumps, Fatigue, and Input from the Crew.

The analysis begins with a discussion about BOUNTY’s dual regulatory status, i.e., her
operations as a recreational vessel when underway (including international voyages), and as a
commercial vessel only when secured dockside, and therefore subject to safety inspections
only at those times. While this particular dual status was very unusual as compared to the rest
of the traditional fleet as represented by Tall Ships America (TSA - formerly the American Sail
Training Association), there is nothing in the regulations that specifically prohibits this
arrangement. There is, however, one line of thinking, yet to be resolved, that would designate
“the vessel itself as the cargo,” since, in the case of dockside attractions, it is the vessel itself
that is the generator of commerce. In the meantime, the USCG would only say that it is
“speculative” that BOUNTY’s outcome would have been improved had she been fully inspected
as a commercial vessel. While the ownership was actively pursuing certification, albeit fitfully,
the ABS indicated a number of deficiencies that needed to be corrected. These were
apparently not followed through on, although, again, this was not considered causal to the

As for manning requirements, the report discusses discrepancies between different
regulations, with one requiring licensed masters, mates and engineers for vessels of BOUNTY’s
size, regardless of the vessel’s status. Other regulations, however, make a distinction between
“uninspected” and “recreational,” with the latter needing only a master. [There have been
comments by some that the BOUNTY organization was “gaming the system” by operating with
the “recreational” status while underway. Given that this was BOUNTY’s “historical
classification” from the USCG, it could be said that the captain was attempting to exceed these
requirements, even if the tonnage of the five additional licenses aboard was less than the
ship’s tonnage. I think resolutions to these ambiguities can be expected in the near future.]

As regards the engineer, the USCG feels that even a licensed one would have had insufficient
time to become properly familiar with BOUNTY’s systems, and to make them ready for sea.
Yes, a licensed engineer can probably be assumed to have a stronger resistance to seasickness,
but the feeling is also that, given the weather conditions at the time, the presence of a licensed
engineer would probably have made little difference in the final outcome.

There is considerable discussion in the report’s analysis concerning the actions of the
organization, and how its lack of maritime expertise effected operations and maintenance.
Various changes were made to the ship at various times without regard to, or more likely
without knowledge of, the ramifications these changes would create vis-à-vis applicable
regulations or the ship’s existing paperwork. For example, a new access was created between
the weather deck and the “tween” deck. The result was the unintended increase of the
tonnage of the ship from 266 GRT to 409 GT(ITC), with commensurate new requirements.
After unsuccessful appeals, the organization chose to return to the original configuration
rather than meet the new requirements. [Had they known these ramifications, or consulted
with someone who did, they would have saved considerable expense, and could have directed
that expense and manpower towards perhaps more important maintenance issues.] The
discussion of the survey requested by their insurance company is troubling, in that the request
was made on October 4, while the ship was still hauled out, but the organization did not
respond until the day the ship was re-launched on the 17th. The survey was conducted two
days later, on the 19th. The bottom, of course could not now be inspected. The question of the
ballast and tank shifting as discussed above is another example of this lack of awareness, as is
the fact that some of the organization’s literature advertised for passengers for hire, even
though, according to all testimony, no passengers for hire were ever carried. On a more basic
level, communication between the ship and the organization, and the latter's knowledge of
ship specifics, was apparently less than ideal, as evidenced by the captain’s request for new
fuel filters and the arrival of the wrong ones.

This situation was apparently exacerbated by a lack of sufficient funds, or an unwillingness to
spend those funds on hand. This was apparently the reason for using less-than-ideal seam
sealing compounds, for having the crew do much of the caulking work during the last refit, and
for postponing additional repairs to those areas found in the topsides to be effected by “dry
rot.” [Funding and related issues were corroborated to me by a former crewmember, who
related to me a conversation he had with the captain wherein the captain expressed his
frustration with financial promises made to him by the organization, and then not kept.]

Further analysis centered on the organization’s lack of oversight in the operations and
maintenance of the ship, relying on the captain to oversee operations and any restrictions
thereto, and to advise the organization on maintenance and procurement. The report drew
clear contrasts to other organizations who are governed by groups of maritime and business
professionals. The report goes on to discuss Crew [Bridge] Resource Management, and to
describe the USCG’s own system of risk assessment and risk management, concepts and
procedures that can and should be followed by all organizations, including recreational. The
report also discusses in more detail the Safety Management System (SMS), which can be
tailored to fit any size and type of organization. “A Safety Management System Manual is
provided free of charge by the United States Coast Guard and available for internet download.”

Saving the Captain’s section for last, the next section discusses the sailing track that was
followed by the BOUNTY, with reference to both traditional methods of avoiding hurricanes
and modern forecasting, and the various means to get those forecasts. The captain chose first
to follow a course that would take BOUNTY east of the storm, with the idea that he could run
east and northeast if it became necessary. However, in maintaining his option to get over onto
the “navigable” side of the storm, he took a south southeasterly course so as not to get too far
east. He decided to exercise that option on Saturday morning with a course change to the
southwest. Notwithstanding that he crossed in front of the storm, he was successful in
positioning BOUNTY where he had intended, on the “navigable” side of the storm.
Unfortunately, he made his course change too late, thereby allowing Sandy to get much too
close, preventing him from getting to a harbor of safe refuge in a timely fashion, and putting
BOUNTY on the North Wall of the Gulf Stream at exactly the worst time. [The one saving grace
of this course change was that it put BOUNTY close enough to the coast to make rescue
possible in hurricane conditions.]

The USCG is quite blunt in determining that the first notification of a major problem, at 2000
Sunday evening, came “much too late.” Their feeling is that the time for notification should
have been as soon as the pumping capacity of the two electric pumps was discovered to be
insufficient sometime on Saturday evening, and one of the emergency hydraulic pumps was
activated (with difficulty - the other was found to be inoperable). Since water ingress was
already becoming problematic even before then, a first notification even sooner than Saturday
evening would not have been unreasonable, and might have allowed assistance to arrive
before conditions became extreme. There is discussion about reporting requirements for
certified versus recreational vessels, the former requiring immediate notification of any system
failure, the latter requiring immediate notification only for death or disappearance. So,
technically, the BOUNTY may not have been obligated to notify, but the USCG still found this
delay of notification to be negligent.

The Hull and Structure section of the analysis talks about BOUNTY’s recent refit history, and
describes bottom planking, frame and stern post replacements in 2001. A 54,000 pound
ballast shoe was bolted onto the underside of the keel during the ’06-’07 yard period, along
with attempts to straighten an 8” hog (a “drooping” of the ends of a ship). All topside planking
and significant framing was also replaced during this yard period. It was this new wood that
was found to contain areas of “dry rot” during the most recent yard period,
September/October 2012. This was attributed to a perceived lack of ventilation, and to
intrusion of fresh water as a result of numerous deck and deckedge leaks. Some of this rot was
repaired and some was questionably stabilized with oil based paint for near future repair.
Testimony and opinions differ on the extent of this deterioration, and on the effect this had on
the ship’s seaworthiness. All agree, though, that it was at least a cause for concern. Also of
concern were the various “household” sealants used as seam sealers, not normally
recommended for underwater use. The cotton/oakum "bumping" and caulking done by the
crew during this yard period was questioned, but deemed by the yard personnel to have been

The Stability and Load Line section describes in more detail the 2009 stability test and Stability
Letter, and the 2011 revision to the Letter, both as part of the organization’s efforts to have
BOUNTY assigned an ABS Load Line, and to have her certified by the USCG as either a sailing
school or passenger carrying vessel. The 2011 Stability Letter approved her stability as
adequate, provided she did not carry her royals and mizzen topgallant with passengers aboard.
As indicated above, stability was not considered a causal factor in this incident.

Much of the effort to save the ship took place in the Engine Room, as that’s also where some
of the problems occurred. Prior to getting under way, the engineer had only a few weeks to
learn all the systems, establish what paperwork and logs did or didn’t exist (mostly the latter),
and otherwise get the engine room and systems ready for sea. It has become clear that his
time for preparation, and therefore the preparation itself, was insufficient for going to sea,
even in the best of conditions. Once offshore and in the crisis, he admitted he was unsure if he
had transferred fuel into the port day tank that Sunday morning, or if the broken sight glass
accounted for that tank running dry and shutting down the port main and genset, crippling
maneuverability and reducing de-watering capabilities. Since there is no other recollection of
heavy diesel fumes or other evidence of fuel leakage, it is therefore very likely that the port day
tank did not get re-filled, allowing that tank to run dry. The sight glass apparently broke while
the tank was empty, or nearly so, and would have been simply a coincidental and noncontributory
event. To complicate matters, the starboard generator had apparently started
experiencing fluctuation and hard starting early Sunday evening. The cause could never be
determined and fixed, as the engineer was not yet familiar enough with that unit, and the
captain, the only real engineer on board, had already sustained his injury.

The condition of the Bilge Pump system was looked at closely, with an analysis by the Marine
Safety Center that, with both electric pumps and one hydraulic pump working properly, dewatering
capacity would have been about 625 gallons per minute. The reported rate of
flooding was two feet per hour. This translates to a per-minute rate (470 to 670 GPM,
depending on water level) roughly equivalent to the optimum de-watering rate. That optimum
rate was never achieved, due both to generator problems, and to suspected debris clogging the
system. As indicated above, the gas trash pump was barely operable, and unusable in any
case. It was purchased and put aboard as an emergency fire pump to satisfy the MCA while
BOUNTY was in Europe in 2011.

While it’s safe to say that the crew performed admirably, their effectiveness was most
assuredly diminished by fatigue, brought on by lack of sleep, the physical strain of dealing with
heavy weather, and seasickness.

Once safely ashore and settled, the crew made a number of astute observations and
suggestions concerning the design and function of their safety gear and liferafts.

The remaining analysis in the USCG report is concerned with the Captain. It describes a captain
of extensive sailing ship experience with a 1600GRT license with an auxiliary sail endorsement
[of which there are only a relative few in the country for a license of that size]. He was well
known in the sailing ship circles, was highly respected both professionally and personally, and
was considered by the great majority of his present and former crewmembers to be an
excellent teacher and mentor, with an emphasis on crew safety. So, the question is, knowing
what he surely must have known (heavier leakage in heavy weather, the questionable
condition of some of the topside wood, a number of unresolved ABS deficiencies, crew
concerns about the bilge pump system, an inexperienced and unprepared engineer, a smaller
lightly experienced crew, no fire or abandon ship drills since August, and a hurricane), what
made him feel compelled to get underway regardless? The USCG offers a number of factors
that apparently influenced his decision, based on crew testimony, interviews, and
correspondence. The first discussed was his opinion that, in a storm, a ship was safer at sea
than in port. This was one of the reasons given to the crew at the “capstan meeting”
immediately prior to departure from New London. [While this can certainly sometimes be
true, it presumes you can maximize your distance from a storm, and/or find another port that
is safer.] The second reason given has to do with the ship’s finances. It has become clear that
this was an on-going concern with him, and he was trying to assist the organization however
possible to improve this situation. He felt BOUNTY’s timely presence in St. Petersburg was very
important to that end, especially considering the potential new relationship with a worthy
cause, and was loath to take the chance on missing out on that. The USCG makes the case that
had BOUNTY waited in New London until the hurricane had passed, she still could have arrived
on time for her Florida commitments. Thirdly, one crewmember understood the captain to
honor the superstitious prohibition of Friday departures. A fourth reason given was his desire
to ensure that all crew were able to get home for the Thanksgiving holidays. Finally, much was
made of the captain’s various comments in the media about “chasing hurricanes,” and led the
USCG to characterize the final reason for sailing as “The challenge.” All of the crew disputed
that he actually chased hurricanes, or ever meant to, and thought he was perhaps trying to
give some idea to a layman of navigating around a hurricane if caught near one. Some wrote
off the comments as facetious. The USCG also discussed organization literature that said
“BOUNTY had no boundaries,” and “went places no other Tall Ship would go.” They also
discussed the possibility that, due to BOUNTY’s successful weathering of past storms, the
organization’s and captain’s confidence in the ship may have been inflated.

My Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Many years ago, I was confronted with a situation where I thought leaving the dock for that
particular dinner run was questionable given the full-gale weather conditions at the moment.
The message from management was basically, get underway and do the run, or we’ll find
another captain who will. I acquiesced, managed to muddle through without damage or injury,
changed my underwear, and started looking around for another job. Sooner or later most
experienced captains have found themselves faced with variations of the same theme. I’m not
sure we’ll ever know if BOUNTY’s captain was given a similar explicit or implicit message from
his organization, or if perhaps his message came from within. He certainly had an “ownership”
stake in BOUNTY, even if it may have been only emotional. It had been his life and life’s work,
and second home, for 17 years. From his perspective, the ship, and his reason for being, was
financially in trouble. Any lifeline, especially one which would not only benefit the ship
financially, but also get the ship involved in a very worthwhile program such as the Ashley
Deramus Foundation, might be worth sailing around a hurricane to secure. He also had strong
concern for his crew in general, with an immediate concern to get them home in time for the
holidays. And, something not mentioned in the report, his wife and home, whom he hadn’t
seen in quite some time, were in St Pete. These are some very strong motivations.

Having apparently been swayed by those motivations, it would seem that he found confidence
in deciding to sail from several sources. He had experienced heavy weather on BOUNTY a
number of times in the past, more or less successfully. He had certainly made every effort to
keep BOUNTY in seaworthy condition, even if financial constraints were a constant limiting
factor. The addition of the ballast lead keel shoe was surely an improvement from a stability
standpoint, was probably instrumental in BOUNTY passing her Subchapter S stability
requirements (that the organization couldn’t complete the rest of the certification process is
unfortunate), and no doubt contributed to his sense of security in the ship. He allowed himself
to believe, without much reservation it would seem, that a ship really was safer offshore in a
storm. And about those comments to a reporter about “chasing hurricanes,” I tend to agree
with the crew. I’ve also been asked those “landlubber” questions from time to time, and it’s
very easy to slip into being flip and facetious, if one is not careful. Sadly, at that moment, he
was not careful.

No thoughts were offered by the USCG as to why the captain waited so long to call for help or
to order the ship abandoned, and I’m not sure I can really offer any either, except to say that
chagrin, denial, embarrassment and yes, maybe a bit of pride, can be much more powerful
emotions and detractors of clear thinking than most people realize. Not excuses, certainly, but
it’s something to keep in mind.

It’s been occurring to me all during this process that we’re looking at a situation where a
number of thoughts and actions were made with very good intent, but which resulted in a very
bad outcome. The motivations I spoke of above were all born of good intent. The captain’s
efforts to keep the ship as seaworthy as resources would allow, all undertaken with good
intent. And his never-ending efforts to train “the future captains of America” exhibited the
best of intents. None of this should be forgotten.

A few structural items in the report are worth mentioning, one being the discussion on the
apparent lack of ventilation to the structure. Having studied a number of structural drawings
obtained from the USCG via a FOIA request, I did notice that no “air strakes” were indicated in
the ceiling planking. If no other means of enhancing ventilation were present, then I’m not
surprised that BOUNTY had the topside rot issues she did (dark colors in hot climates didn’t
help, either). I also noticed the captain’s efforts to remove an 8” hog in the ship during one of
the previous yard periods. Again, the intention is excellent, but one which will not succeed
over time unless some form of additional diagonal structure, either riders or strapping, is
installed within the hull. Without this, any ship will simply settle back to the hogged condition.

One item mentioned but not discussed in the report concerns the new ballast shoe bolted onto
the underside of the keel in 2006-07. In studying the drawings I spoke of above, it appears that
the eleven lead ballast castings (5250 lbs each) that make up the ballast shoe were bolted up
through the keel, frames and keelsons, with 1” 316 SS bolts, 3 bolts per casting, one bolt at
each frame. These bolts span 60” from the underside of the ballast shoe to the top of the
upper keelson. It is unclear whether these “bolts” are threaded rod, or solid rod threaded only
at the upper ends. The load and stress calculations shown on the drawings appear to apply to
1” solid rod, with the least safety factor (shear at 90/ heel) being 6.92. While the P&S
staggering dimensions are also unclear, the drawing appears OK in that regard. So far, so good.
The individual backing plates for the upper nuts appear to be a few inches square, otherwise
un-dimensioned and unspecified. Several things concern me, however. First is the lack of any
additional structural means of preventing the lateral “swinging” of the keel in relation to the
frames immediately above. Professor Tom Gillmer and I determined that this was critically
important to address when we drew up the PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II, with her similar bolted-on
ballast shoe. In addition to the normal keel bolts that tied together the keel, frames and
keelson, we devised a bronze “weldment” to be installed atop the keel in every frame bay in
way of the ballast shoe that a) provided ballast bolt backing plates the full width of the keel
and extending to the adjacent frames, b) incorporated vertical frame flanges welded to the
backing plates that extended well up the P&S frame faces and were thru-bolted one to another
through the frames, and c) included vertical flanges welded to each side of the backing plates,
and the ends of which were welded to the frame flanges, further stiffening the whole
weldment. Without these weldments, as was the case with BOUNTY according to the drawings
provided, our fear was that the weight of the lead shoe would severely exacerbate the
tendency of the keel timber to rotate laterally as the ship heeled and rolled. My other concern
with BOUNTY’s ballast installation is the use of Stainless Steel bolts, as opposed to bronze or
Monel. SS keel bolts have proven in certain applications to be perfectly fine (a few recent
tragic keel losses notwithstanding), provided they can be kept dry. In modern fiberglass
construction, with good design and care, the keel can be mated with the hull in such a way that
there is little chance of water intrusion. However, this is exceedingly difficult to replicate on
traditionally built wooden ships, especially retrofitting older ships. For one thing, there are
multiple wood surface interfaces that need to be kept watertight, i.e., lead shoe/keel,
keel/frame, frame/lower keelson, and lower/upper keelson. Given what I believe was
exacerbated working caused by the additional weight at the bottom of the keel, keeping those
interfaces dry would have been next to impossible over time. Moisture would then reach the
SS fasteners, which, starved for oxygen given their location, will corrode. I don’t know if the
condition of these SS keel bolts was known prior to leaving the yard during the last yard period.
One of the effects of this fastener corrosion and aggravated working of the keel of the ship,
especially in heavy weather, would be to more quickly and aggressively open up the seams in
way of the garboards. I would conjecture then that this condition further accelerated
BOUNTY’s flooding in these severe storm conditions. This then, unfortunately, becomes a very
real example of a) a factor which gave the captain a false sense of security in his ship, and b) an
undertaking with very good intentions going very wrong.

Finally, from a strictly practical standpoint, I have to say that the analysis and conclusions of
the USCG in its report are hard to argue with. Yes, I think the captain’s situation and thinking
are worth understanding and respecting, even if we agree that he and the organization made
some horrible decisions. However, the fact that even good experienced captains can be led
astray is precisely why we now have Bridge Resource Management (BRM) training (now
mandated for some upper-level licenses sailing internationally). A proper risk assessment
procedure is a must in any undertaking. Yes, captains still have the final word, and crew and
mates need to respect that. But captains also need to respect, listen to, and take advantage of
the talents of their crew. BRM provides the framework where both these relationships can be
gracefully maintained, and where proper risk management procedures take emotions and
agendas, even well-intentioned ones, out of the equation. I would venture to guess that, were
the captain still with us, he, in his capacity as an excellent teacher, would be the first to agree.

There are many excellent articles and books covering BRM and risk management procedures,
so I’ll forgo detailed procedural descriptions here. I invite the reader to find Capt. Andy
Chase’s excellent recent article "Lessons of the BOUNTY: Drawing Experience from Tragedy" in
WoodenBoat Magazine, and Capt. Dan Parrott’s book "Bridge Resource Management for Small
Ships: The Watchkeeper's Manual for Limited-Tonnage Vessels." For any skipper of any vessel
of any size, these are important reads!

Finally, I would like to applaud TSA’s proactive cooperation with the USCG and their efforts to
apply the lessons from this tragedy to their entire fleet. Sail-training has proven to be an
extremely valuable and worthwhile activity, benefitting thousands of youth and adults over the
years, and every effort should be made to continue these programs and maximize their safety
without having to resort to new excessive regulation. And, having attended the Portsmouth
hearings, I also applaud the USCG for the care, finesse and expertise they exhibited in carrying
out the investigation and reporting this tragedy.

About the Author:

Iver Franzen's 40-year maritime career has included work both as a captain and as a naval architect. Iver holds a
500 Ton Master's License, with endorsements for auxiliary sail and 1600 Ton OSVs. After earning his BA from Union
College in 1974 and working as a professional ski patrolman at Killington, he worked many years as a charter and
delivery captain, and many more as a commercial passenger vessel captain, including "Tall ships," throughout the
East Coast and Caribbean. He started his naval architecture career in 1987 with an intensive 5-year apprenticeship
with Professor Thomas Gillmer, becoming a member of SNAME in 1992. He's been involved in numerous projects
such as PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II, KALMAR NYCKEL and USS CONSTITUTION, to name only a few. Iver opened his
own naval architecture practice in Annapolis in 1996, and continues to work as a designer, consultant and writer,
and, when an interesting situation comes along, as a captain.

© 2014 Iver C. Franzen, Annapolis, MD