Friday, March 25, 2011

DERELICTION OF JUSTICE - MAYBE

On March 22, 2011 the Petty Officer at the helm of a USCG patrol boat when it crashed into a 24 foot civilian pleasure boat killing an eight (8) year-old boy and injuring five (5) other persons on San Diego Bay in 2009 was found NOT GUILTY of involuntary manslaughter and three other serious charges by a General Court-Martial jury. This surprising verdict, to NAUTICAL LOG and we believe many other seafarers, needs further review and possible action.

Quoting from "the log" California's Boating & Fishing News:

" The seven member jury found Petty Officer 3rd. Class Paul Ramos guilty of the lesser charge - dereliction of duty for failure to conduct a risk assessment. Ramos 22 was sentenced to three months confinement a reduction in rank from paygrade E-4 to E-3 and forfeiture of $1300 from his pay for three months. Ramos has the right to appeal."

The boy's father Mr. Alan DeWeese appeared stunned, his wife and he are naturally devastated that someone could run over and kill his son and receive a 'slap-on-the-wrist'. We at NAUTICAL LOG express our deepest sympathy to the family. The prosecution said that Ramos (22) in responding to a callout was going too fast and failed to follow safety procedures when he crashed into the 24 foot boat operated by Mr. DeWeese. Ramos pleaded not guilty to the charges of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated assault, hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty. He faced a possible sentence of 10 years in the brig.

Besides Ramos there were three other crewmembers;
Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen who pleaded guilty of dereliction of duty as a lookout and received a letter of reprimand.
Petty Officer Lavelle M. Teague charge of dereliction of duty dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
Petty Officer Ian M. Howell the highest ranking member of the patrol boat is to face Court-Martial in May 2011 and is charged of negligent homicide, assault, negligence with a boat and dereliction of duty.

However even though the Courts-Martial have been completed or are schedueled the internal investigations by both the USCG and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are ongoing. WHY ?

While one does not like to see young people go to jail for long periods of time these verdicts do not appear to win much respect for the USCG Justice System which acts as law enforcement, judge, jury and is possibly covering for it own persons. While NAUTICAL LOG has not seen or heard the evidence hopefully a civil court action has been filed and all evidence reviewed. In similar cases brought by USCG/NTSB civilian seafarers have been found guilty and punished for the more serious charges.

When one considers that these young people are authorised to throw flashbangs to stop NAUTICAL LOG when operating a vessel with 60 years of seafaring experience of which 50 is professional deepsea from Cadet to Master while holding Ocean Unlimited Master issued by five (5) nations, something is clearly very very wrong. One hopes the various U.S. Seafaring Unions initiate inquiries and demand serious action. Most certainly there are grounds for a Congressional Hearing which NAUTICAL LOG has addressed by contacting our Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 18th. District of Florida and requesting that she follow up on these verdicts.


Good Watch

Please remember the 800 seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work to free them.

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