Federal safety investigators revealed Wednesday that crew members aboard two Coast Guard boats involved in collisions in California and South Carolina last year were using wireless devices for conversation or text messaging unrelated to vessel operations. The collisions killed one person and injured 10.
The NTSB said in a statement that it has not determined the probable causes of the collisions in San Diego Bay and the Charleston, S.C., harbor, but was urging the Guard to develop a thorough policy on use of the devices by the service and to issue a safety advisory to the maritime industry.
The National Transportation Safety Board did not say how many members of each crew were using the devices or what their roles were on the boats, but said the accidents raise concerns about the potential for distraction.
It noted in a letter to the Guard that the service considers all crew members to be lookouts when a vessel is under way.
The Coast Guard issued a policy on July 16 that prohibits use of the devices by the boat operator - the person at the wheel and throttles - at all times while under way, said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, chief of media relations at Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C.