RI DEM Announces Findings In Boating Collision/Sailor's Death

Posted by John K. Fulweiler | Oct 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

In August, 2019, a powerboat and small sailboat collided in the vicinity of the Newport Bridge in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management was tasked with the investigation. Our query around here: "Does the RI DEM have the skillset to accomplish such a task?"

We don't know, but if you read the RI DEM's "About" page, forensic examination of a vessel collision isn't something that jumps out as a skill set that the department acknowledges. For instance, this is the first paragraph from its website under the title "ABOUT US":

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) serves as the chief steward of the state's natural resources – from beautiful Narragansett Bay to our local waters and green spaces to the air we breathe. Our mission put simply is to protect, restore, and promote our environment to ensure Rhode Island remains a wonderful place to live, visit, and raise a family.

We're sure (nay, we know) the RI DEM does good and meaningful work. And we're equally confident that the RI DEM's intentions are good, but come on. The forensic unfolding of a vessel collision is a specialty task. Maybe the RI DEM hired specialists or maybe its personnel have such specialised training, but we wonder.

Does the RI DEM have any licensed merchant mariners on its staff? Did the RI DEM give consideration as to information regarding sailboat races sometimes included in the Coast Guard's Local Notice to Mariners?

Again, the RI DEM may have done a yeoman's job in investigating this incident, but given its mission statement, we wonder whether such investigations are within its skillset.

You can read the recent DEM news release HERE.

Underway and making way.

-- Fulweiler ll

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About the Author

John K. Fulweiler

Proctor-In-Admiralty / Licensed U.S. Coast Guard Master Formerly a partner in a New York maritime law firm, John K. Fulweiler graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Marine Affairs degree and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. In addition to being recognized by...


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