Tag Archives: maritime

MARITIME SAFETY: Playing the pilot

HFW’s Joseph Botham explains why proposed UK pilotage changes have global influence

[Originally published in Port Strategy, 2013.03.29. Comments within brackets]

As the UK-Government supported Marine Navigation Bill (No.2) comes under close scrutiny by the national Parliament, there are wider implications for the Bill than its UK-centric focus implies.

Although comments, contributions and discussions surrounding the Bill are primarily UK directed, it would seem that the Bill is providing a platform for the consideration of issues which are of interest and of relevance to the industry internationally.

In the words of the International Marine Pilots Association, “…shipping is a global business and the position in the UK in terms of pilotage has to be considered in this international setting”.

Against this backdrop, the outcome of the consultation of the Bill may prove very interesting and influential in the call for a review and the shaping of international standards, regulation and requirements in respect to pilotage.

The Bill makes provisions in relation to marine navigation and harbours in the UK by proposing amendments to the current UK legislation relating to pilotage, harbour authorities, the general lighthouse authorities, the manning of ships, marking of wrecks, as well as extending the powers of port police in the UK.


Repeat business 

A previous draft marine navigation bill was presented to the UK Parliament by the UK Department of Transport and consulted on in 2008. The current Bill revives much of the contents and scope of this 2008 draft bill. Most importantly it revives certain provisions which came under close scrutiny during the previous consultation and the discussions which remained open. These relate largely to the levels of training and proficiency, and the standards required for pilotage in UK harbours in respect to the holding of a Pilot Exemption Certificate.

The Bill aims to reduce the burden on ports and the shipping industry while reducing regulation and improving safety for ships navigating in and out of harbours and the seas around the UK.

In particular, the Bill seeks to reduce the risk of potentially expensive accidents involving the improper use of PECs and providing ports with new powers to help implement their safety responsibilities under the UK’s Port Marine Safety Code which establishes an agreed national standard for port safety in the UK.

Under the current regime, only the Master or First Mate of a ship may hold a PEC.

A PEC effectively allows a Master or First Mate of a ship to act as his own pilot. Without any PEC holder onboard, a ship would need to make use of a pilot provided by the relevant competent harbour authority, which would involve the payment of pilot’s fees to the harbour authority providing such service – qualified pilots provide their services to ships for a fee, calculated in relation to the ship’s tonnage, draught and other criteria. 

Both a pilot’s expertise and that of a PEC holder relate to the specific navigational conditions in relevant specified harbours. This means that in order to be granted a PEC the applicant Master or First Mate must satisfy the relevant competent harbour authority of their experience and knowledge of the particular waters in respect to which they are applying for a PEC. It also means that PECs are not transferable between harbours/harbour authorities.

The Bill seeks to make the process of granting PECs more flexible by proposing to: (i) remove the restriction on the granting of PECs to exclusively the Master or First Mate of a ship; and (ii) extend the eligibility criteria and process for the granting of a PEC.

[The result would be that someone less prepared and probably more fatigued than a pilot could do his or her job, corroding the layer of safety represented by the pilots. This is mediocracy in action.]


Clamp down 

Initially, it was proposed that any bona fide crew member may hold a PEC. However, following certain comments and stages of consultation in the UK Parliament this wording of ‘bona fide crew member’ has since been amended to the now agreed term of ‘deck officer’.

This amendment of the wording sheds light on the central point of concern – the rank and level of experience that must be met for the granting of a PEC. There has been much discussion as to whether the pilotage of any ship might now be placed ‘in the hands of a deck boy, the cook or the man on the street’. 

In order to grant a PEC, the relevant competent harbour authority must be satisfied that the applicant has the skill, experience, local knowledge and sufficient knowledge of English to be capable of safely piloting one or more specified ships within its harbour without a qualified pilot onboard. 

[The level the applicant would have to attain must be at least as high as the one where the pilot is. Will it?]

The supporters of the Bill argue that this shift from the level of rank to the level of experience will ensure enhanced security while promoting efficiency and cost savings in respect to the execution by harbour authorities of their legal obligations.

[Nobody is in favour of inefficiency. Too much protection, and bankruptcy results. But one should not ignore that more efficiency often comes at the expense of ‘thoroughness’, as Erik Hollnagel puts it. In other words, there will be (over)simplifications, shortcuts and other actions that tend to erode safety.]

This proposed relaxation and widening of the requirements for the granting of a PEC has proved to be controversial. It has paved the way for an industry discussion in respect to the position onboard ship of a PEC holder and, the level of expertise and experience required by a PEC holder to navigate the passage of a ship in or out of a harbour both in the UK and internationally.


Safety first 

In particular, the level of personal knowledge and expertise of the local safe routes and hazards has been discussed and it is feared that the proposal could result in a reduction in pilotage standards among ships using UK ports. 

Some commentators see the changes as threatening safety in complex and often congested waters. In their view, the standard of training and examination of the PEC holder should be no more or less onerous than that of the pilot replaced. Others expect that the proposals would amount to a ‘dumbing down’ of pilotage capability and, in turn, increase the risk of accidents in UK coastal and restricted waters.

These concerns are not new; during the consultation of the 2008 draft bill it was also argued that pilotage requires experience, skills and professional judgment at a level which staff of lower ranks are unlikely to possess. One view was that a level of qualification for PEC holders should be set rather than empowering individual harbour authorities to assess each individual applicant’s merits.

In response, the UK Government has confirmed in the current consultation, that PEC regulation exemptions would only be made on the basis of demonstrable pilotage skill – harbour authorities will only be empowered under the Bill to award PECs to those who have the skill, experience and local knowledge sufficient to pilot a ship in the relevant harbour waters. 

The UK Government has also emphasised that, as a result of the proposed amendments, it would be easier for Harbour Masters to revoke PECs from individuals found to be lacking in ability.

Whatever the outcome of the consultation on the Bill, it has thrown an uncomfortable spotlight on the UK pilotage industry, one that has drawn global attention.

Joseph Botham is an associate at Holman Fenwick Willan, a law firm advising businesses engaged in international commerce.

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SHIPPING: Cargo ships fail to report their position, risk disaster on Great Barrier Reef

HUNDREDS of ships have been caught breaking laws intended to prevent an environmental disaster in the Great Barrier Reef.

About one ship every two days is failing to report its position before entering the Reef, raising fears foreign crews with limited knowledge of Australian maritime law are ignoring basic rules to safeguard against an oil spill in the marine park.

Ships of 50m or more and all oil tankers must report their positions before entering the reef so their journey through its waters can be automatically tracked and a computer-generated warning issued should they stray off course.

Most of the 250 cases of ships breaching reporting laws in the past 18 months were in a section of reef where new rules were introduced following the 2010 grounding of bulk carrier Shen Neng 1.

The Chinese carrier was loaded with 65,000 tonnes of coal when it ran aground on Douglas Shoal 80km north of Rockhampton, gouging a 3km-long scar in the reef and spilling tonnes of oil.

Mandatory reporting and vessel tracking was extended to the southern border of the reef after the incident.

Australian Reef Pilots chief executive Simon Meyjes said it was another reason for mandatory pilotage of ships through the whole of the marine park.

“About two-thirds the length of the marine park does not require a pilot onboard the ship,” he said.

“A lot of ships arrive in Australia with a foreign crew with no local knowledge.

“If they are failing to do that (report) it makes the job of alerting them to a potential risk that much more difficult.”

Failing to report a position does not mean a ship has strayed from designated shipping lanes or rat run through the reef.

But it makes it harder for officials to program a ship’s intended route so a warning can be generated should it steam into danger.

Townsville-based Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vessel Traffic Service manager Mick Bishop said vessels were still closely monitored by staff using satellite-tracking.

Two staff a shift monitor 40-50 ships in the reef at any one time.

“The most important thing is that they report the route they intend to follow,” Mr Bishop said of the reporting rules.

“Once they do that we can then electronically program that into the VTS (vessel tracking service) and we would then get alerted if there was any deviation from that route that they hadn’t given us prior notification of.

“The reason (for failing to notify staff) would be they were unaware of the requirement to report. I don’t think we have people trying to sneak in.”

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/cargo-ships-risk-disaster-on-great-barrier-reef-by-failing-to-report-their-position/story-fndo45r1-1226419835047


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SHIPPING: Risk of tankers on Fraser River, Canada, ‘acceptable’: port study

This is an interesting article involving risk assessment and the maritime industry — with a link to the full report.

By Jeff Nagel – Richmond Review

Published: June 08, 2012 3:00 PM
Updated: June 08, 2012 3:17 PM

A study for Port Metro Vancouver concludes it’s feasible to send tankers into the lower Fraser River to supply jet fuel to Vancouver International Airport and the risks are “broadly acceptable.”

It found the likelihood of a spill damaging the environment is “improbable” but recommends a series of safeguards to further reduce the risks if such a project advances.

The Fraser River Tanker Traffic Study, prepared by consultants Det Norske Veritas, was commissioned by the port in response to a proposal to bring jet fuel by tankers to a terminal on the river at No. 7 road and then send it by underground pipeline through Richmond to the airport.

The study considered scenarios such as ships colliding, a tanker running aground due to human error or adrift due to mechanical failure, a fire or explosion and the risk of accidents while a tanker is moored at a riverside terminal.

It calls for tugs to escort tankers with hazardous cargo and for enhanced emergency response capabilities on the river.

Other recommendations include tighter regulation of vessel traffic on the lower Fraser and various navigation aids so pilots aboard the vessels would know precisely how much water is between the keel and the river bed.

It also argues any terminal on the river should be shielded from other shipping traffic with some sort of fender-like structure to reduce the risk of another ship hitting a moored tanker.

“It shows there are some mitigations that need to be put in place to ensure safety,” said Port Metro Vancouver harbour master Yoss Leclerc.

The study was not limited to the river entrance, but considered the potential for tanker traffic as far upstream as the Pattullo Bridge.

Leclerc said the scope was based on the physical limit of how far deep sea tankers can travel, adding there are no specific proposals he’s aware of further upriver toward New Westminster or Surrey.

But Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said he thinks the study has set the stage for more tanker proposals.

“Once you’ve established the right of tankers to come up the river, who knows where they’ll go,” he said. “We could end up with a major tanker port.”

Steves said he suspects the Fraser River could emerge as a backup terminal for Kinder Morgan, if its plan to twin its Trans Mountain oil pipeline and send many more crude oil tankers out through Burrard Inlet runs into too much opposition in Vancouver.

“Once they can use tankers to carry jet fuel on the river, what’s to stop them from carrying crude?”

The only specific proposal so far for liquid shipments on the Fraser is the one from the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corp., although it has not yet made a formal application.

Critics say it would pose unacceptable risks to the Fraser estuary’s important habitat for salmon, birds and other marine life.

Steves said he’s not surprised the port-funded study essentially gives a green light to river tankers, despite heavy opposition in Richmond.

“The whole question of tankers coming up the river to provide jet fuel for the airport has been broken down into little isolated components,” Steves said, adding separate hearings are looking into the planned pipeline.

“We never get the overall picture. So we’re being piecemealed to death on a project that has problems throughout its scope.”

The tanker study found two out of 62 accidents on the south arm of the Fraser in the past five years involved deep water vessels and none have been serious leading to significant pollution or fatalities.

It also concluded the Fraser River bottom is mainly soft sand and would not likely damage a tanker’s hull if there were contact. All tankers transiting the river would have to have double hulls, it added, and be under the control of local pilots.

See also the study’s full report and its summary.

Source: http://www.richmondreview.com/news/158241665.html

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SHIPPING: Costa Concordia removal to become time-lapse movie

A Dutch movie company has begun filming the events taking place at the site of the sunken Italian liner, the Costa Concordia. The goal is to produce a time-lapse movie of the refloating and towing-away of the ill-fated cruise ship.

Bo de Visser of Prorama Films has told Digital Journal in an email interview that he has twice gone to the ship, which went down off the shore of the island of Giglio on Jan. 13. The time-lapse filmmaker said the “main challenge lies within being able to contact the right people in Italy” while 1600km (1100 miles) away in the Netherlands. His first visit was to get permits and take care of electricity needs and other technical requirements, his second saw him begin the filming.

Costa Concordia time-lapse film

De Visser, who said he does not speak Italian – “I can order two beer and a pizza and that’s about as far as it goes” – got by with English and any method he could dream up to communicate with officials, many who spoke only Italian. He’s had his camera in place and filming since May 12.

“Out of respect to the victims of the disaster filming has not started until the first phase of the salvage operations were finished,” de Visser told Digital Journal. “During this first phase victims were still being recovered from the sunken vessel.”

The filmmaker says that when the ship has been refloated and towed away he will produce more than one time-lapse movies. “There will be various versions, from 5 minutes till 1 hour,” he said. “And during the project there will be several episodes of the key stages of the salvage.” He has already created a short time-lapse movie called ‘Clouds over the Costa Concordia.’

The shots Prorama’s camera are now taking will be part of the accumulated moments that make up the movie and the live feed is available to view most of the day (between 05:00-21:00 CET) on a website called The Last Salute.

Costa Concordia: The Last Salute

Work to remove the ship began in earnest June 1 and is being done by the American salvage company, Titan Salvage, along with the Italian company, Micoperi. Thirty-two people died in the tragedy, with 30 bodies recovered to date. The similarities to arguably the greatest maritime disaster in history, the sinking of the Titanic, is partly what drew de Visser to the Costa Concordia.

“Immediately my thoughts drifted to the Titanic, which sank almost 100 years ago,” he said when describing how he felt upon hearing of the disaster. “The comparison was easily made: the Costa Concordia is a modern day Titanic.”

The project to refloat the boat is to de Visser “the greatest salvage operation of all times” and he wanted he and his company to be there. “This movie will document an event that will be history in the making,” he said. “And I would like to be a part of that.”


Source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/326231#ixzz1xF6S8WKt


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SHIPPING: Students get hands-on introduction to local maritime industry

HOUSTON — San Jacinto College South Campus students in the introduction to ships and shipping course (MARA 2401) are getting hands-on learning experiences within the Houston maritime industry.

On a recent visit to Wallenius-Wilhelmsen Lines at the Port of Galveston, students toured Pier 10, where rolling (or ro-ro) cargo is prepped for import into the United States and also staged for export to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Australia, and South America. Students got a chance to see cargo-handling operations as dock personnel readied inbound BMWs and other automobiles for national distribution, and learned about documentation and freight management of outbound military vehicles and heavy construction equipment.

Student Steven Lair was particularly impressed with the process. With no prior logistics or maritime administration background, Lair says this course is why he has chosen to pursue a career in maritime administration. “I originally signed up for the class because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I thought this would be a good way to learn more about the maritime industry,” said Lair. “I’ve learned so much from this one class that I definitely want a career in this field. With the expansion of the Panama Canal, there will definitely be more job opportunities coming to Houston involving maritime. I have friends that graduated with business degrees over a year ago who are still looking for jobs. I feel confident I’ll have an easier time finding a job with a maritime administration degree.”

The San Jacinto College ships and shipping course introduces students to shipboard nomenclature, types of vessels, shipbuilding, navigation, methods of cargo handling, rules of the road, maritime trade and regulation, as well as weather patterns and their impact on vessel operation. Scheduled labs include field trips to Port of Houston and Port of Galveston wharves where students get hands-on instruction in port operations, trucking and rail transportation, and the oil and gas industry. They also get to interact with industry leaders to get a feel for this career field. “This class definitely teaches you all the terminology you need to know when you’re out in the field, and it’s great being able to go on-site at different shipyards and know exactly what everyone is talking about and working on,” said Lair, who will transfer to Texas A&M University at Galveston to begin classes this Fall for a bachelor of science degree in maritime administration.

As part of an articulation agreement with Texas A&M University at Galveston, San Jacinto College students may complete the ships and shipping course at the South Campus as part of an associate degree in business administration. The students can then transfer to Texas A&M at Galveston for a bachelor of science in maritime administration. The MARA 2401 course at the South Campus is the equivalent of the University’s MARA 205 course, which means when a student transfers, he or she will be one step ahead and can skip the introductory course and devote more time to other courses in the program.

Houston and Galveston’s shipping industries can provide lucrative job opportunities for students with maritime training and degrees. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, annual salaries for U.S. Gulf Coast cargo and freight agents average $40,500; sailors and marine oilers average $42,600; ship engineers average $65,700; and captains, mates, and water vessel pilots average $87,800. Total projected employment through 2018 in these areas comes to 10,580 jobs that will be available over the next six years.

With the Panama Canal expansion opening in 2014, an aging workforce in the maritime and other industries, and the resulting impact to the Houston Port region, more maritime employees and an expanded maritime workforce pipeline are needed. In March, San Jacinto College received a TWC Skills Development Fund grant of $616,865 to train 140 new workers and upskill 343 incumbent workers in Coast Guard approved courses.

For more information on the introduction to ships and shipping course (MARA 2401) and the SJC transfer program with Texas A&M University at Galveston, visit www.sanjac.edu/tamug-transfer. The College offers a business and logistics maritime degree program, and will introduce a maritime technology degree program this Fall. For more information, visit www.sanjac.edu/areas-study.

Source: http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/bay_area/news/students-get-hands-on-introduction-to-local-maritime-industry/article_b06349f5-289d-5440-bf93-068770705579.html

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MARITIME PIRACY | A tale of two seafarers

From Tradewinds, 2012.05.12

Two Indian crew have revealed gripping details of their four-month ordeal on board the Italian tanker hijacked off Somalia in December and freed last month.

The 16,600-dwt Marnavi-owned Enrico Ievoli (built 1999) was carrying 15,000 tons of caustic soda and 18 crew from Iran to Turkey when it was seized by gunmen.

The seven Indian crew members landed back home in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Roopendran Parrakat, 51, told the AP news agency he had been watching an unidentified boat since he had come on duty shortly before 6am on 27 December.

He and two other crew took turns peering through binoculars at the vessel, which showed up on the Enrica Ievoli’s radar as an ominous blip moving far too fast toward their ship.

“Normally, you get GPS data,” Parrakat said. “This vessel had no details, no name, nothing.”

Forty minutes later the captain sounded the alarm, jolting Shantilal Harji Solanki awake.

“I had a feeling pirates were around,” said Solanki, 52, who worked as a mechanic on the ship.

He stashed his gold prayer beads in an air conditioning duct before heading up to the ship’s bridge, the designated meeting point in case of emergency.

A skiff had set out from the pirate’s mother ship. The crew watched from the bridge as four men in shorts and T-shirts hoisted a ladder and climbed on board. Two carried AK-47s.

They fired shots in the air and called themselves pirates. They said they were from Somalia.

The men came up to the bridge and trained their guns on the captain. “They said this boat is hijacked,” recalled Solanki. One of the gunmen was shaking. Another man was bleeding, cut on the hand and shoulder by the barbed wire the crew had wrapped around the ship to stave off pirates before entering the dangerous waters.

Five more Somalis soon climbed on board. The youngest was 14, the oldest in his fifties.

“The leader told us we are hijacking this vessel for money,” said Parrakat. “We need this money for our country. We are doing this for our country.”

A helicopter flown in by the Turkish navy in response to the captain’s distress call arrived 20 minutes too late.

The crew were held the crew on the bridge. Half got mattresses, the rest slept on blankets. They had to ask permission to go to the bathroom or take a shower. Pirates always escorted them, one man at a time. Photographs were forbidden.

The pirates led the crew — seven Indians, six Italians and five Ukrainians — one by one to their cabins and took anything that could be sold.

They stole Solanki’s two laptop computers, one of which he’d just bought for his daughter, two cellphones, his watch, his leather shoes and all his money.

After a few days, the ship reached Somali waters and the men were allowed to call home.

Solanki called his wife in Diu, an island north of Mumbai, India’s financial capital. “I told my wife, ‘I am hijacked. Don’t worry, we are OK,'” he recalled.

His two daughters were sobbing too hard to speak clearly. “Papa come soon,” they said.

The crew did not become friends with their captors over the long months of captivity. They barely learned each other’s names. The pirates slept separately and ate their own meals. The Somalis brought sheep on board, slaughtering one each day for food.

The crew played cards, mostly gin rummy, to fill the empty hours. Some prayed.

No one thought of escape. “Everyone was afraid for his life,” said Parrakat.

“I can’t be faster than a bullet,” said Solanki.

Once the ship reached Somali waters, Maya’s group handed the vessel over to anther crew of pirates led by a man named Loyan.

Twice Enrica Ievoli was pressed into pirate service.

In January, the ship sailed two and a half days to rescue nine pirates from a failed hijacking.

Five of the nine were injured and one had been shot dead by the US navy, said Solanki. The pirates put the dead body in the freezer and sailed back to Somalia.

In March, Loyan ordered the ship to chase a hijacked Spanish vessel whose captain was not following pirate orders. They never found the ship.

On 22 April, more than 30 pirates, all armed, were aboard the Enrica Ievoli. They wrapped their faces in cloths, hiding everything but their eyes. They lined the crew up on the deck so they could be seen, alive, from a small white plane that approached in the afternoon.

The pirates kept their guns pointed at the backs of the crew as the plane circled above and then dropped three plastic containers, each fitted with a small parachute, into the sea.

The pirates scurried off the boat to collect their treasure.

Then a new kind of fear settled on the crew.

“Until that day, they had reason to keep us alive,” Parrakat said. “After they got what they wanted, they can do anything.” He stayed awake the whole night, listening as the pirates left the ship in small groups.

Around 5am, the last few pirates fired three farewell shots in the air.

“It was like coming out of jail,” Parrakat said, a big smile spreading on his face.

The captain called an Italian navy ship patrolling nearby. A helicopter circled as six Italian commandoes boarded the Enrica Ievoli and scoured the ship for any trace of pirates.

“When the Italian commandoes came, we felt OK, fine, we are going home,” Solanki said. He took his prayer beads out of the air conditioning duct.

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MARITIME SAFETY | Preventing duck boat tragedy would not have taken much

Excerpts from http://articles.philly.com/2012-05-13/news/31690185_1_oxygen-for-eight-minutes-robert-mongeluzzi-duck-boat:

Ten feet.

Had Matthew R. Devlin walked that far, he could have alerted his tugboat captain that he was experiencing a family emergency, in all likelihood saving the lives of two Hungarian tourists who died in the July 2010 duck-boat accident.

One minute.

Had Devlin, the first mate, kept watch as the tug pushed a 250-foot barge down the Delaware River, that is all the time he would have needed to turn his boat to avoid the collision that killed Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20.

Two lives were lost because of failures both small and epic that day, leading to a $17 million settlement Wednesday for the families and 18 surviving passengers when the federal lawsuit suddenly ended after less than two days of testimony.


Devlin, who is serving a one-year prison sentence for the maritime equivalent of involuntary manslaughter, said in his deposition that he often talked on his cell at work.

“You weren’t some rogue employee who was using your personal cellphone while on watch while no one else did it. … In fact, you were doing what everybody else did, right?” Mongeluzzi asked Devlin.

“Yes,” Devlin replied.

He also testified that hearing about his son had caused him to stop thinking clearly.

His deposition makes painfully clear how little it would have taken to prevent the accident. Devlin knew that K-Sea’s policy was to alert another crew member if he was experiencing a problem.

“How far away was the captain’s cabin from where you were,” Meehan asked.

“Ten feet,” Devlin responded.

“Could you have easily called the captain?” Meehan continued.

“If I was thinking clearly, yes,” Devlin said.


Mongeluzzi also argued that evidence showed repeated failures by Ride the Ducks. The company’s air horn, which could have sounded a warning to Devlin, did not work because Capt. Fox had turned off the engine.

Fox also did not tell passengers to don life jackets until moments before the collision, even though the duck had been stranded on the water for about 12 minutes.

In his deposition, Fox said he did not believe his passengers were imperiled until moments before the barge hit. He feared that passengers would become uncomfortable or sick if they put on life vests.

“I didn’t need anybody passing out or having anybody having heatstroke or any related heat issues,” Fox said.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended Fox’s maritime license for five months because he did not ask passengers to don life jackets and because he failed to call the Coast Guard when the duck boat was stranded.

Read more at http://articles.philly.com/2012-05-13/news/31690185_1_oxygen-for-eight-minutes-robert-mongeluzzi-duck-boat

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