Rear Admiral Steven Ratti, the Coast Guard 5th District commander, ordered a district formal investigation on Thursday, November 1, to determine the cause of the sinking of the Tall Ship Bounty, a 3-masted sailing ship that went down 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina on October 29. The sinking resulted in the death of 1 crewmember. Another crewmember, the ship’s captain, remains missing.

A district formal investigation consists of a Coast Guard investigating officer who will receive evidence and testimony using formal rules and procedures and is convened when the information to be derived has considerable regional significance, or may indicate vessel class problems or areas of technical importance.

The district formal investigation will probe every aspect of the accident and will determine as closely as possible:

  1. the cause of the accident
  2. whether there is evidence that any failure of material or equipment was involved or contributed to the casualty
  3. whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence, or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty
  4. whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard or other government agency personnel caused or contributed to the casualty
  5. whether the accident should be further investigated by a Marine Board of Investigation

The Investigating Officer, Cmdr. Kevin M. Carroll, is the chief of the Coast Guard 5th District Marine Inspections and Investigations Branch and will be assisted by investigating officers from Coast Guard Sector North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C.

Coast Guard investigations of marine casualties and accidents are for the purpose of taking appropriate measures for promoting safety of life and property and are not intended to fix civil or criminal responsibility.

A district formal investigation often takes several months to properly complete.

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