Inquiry into US Navy Ship Grounding Finds Captain at Fault

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Updated Published

An investigation into a grounding incident involving a US Navy vessel has pinpointed negligence, failure to adhere to proper protocols, and a lack of situational awareness by the crew, particularly the Captain, as the primary causes of the mishap.

The Military Sealift Command Vessel Alan Shepard ran aground near Bahrain in 2023 shortly after the Captain, Navigator, and Chief Mate left for dinner, leaving a Junior Third Officer in command. 

This occurred as the ship was en route for repairs and maintenance prior to undergoing sea trials. The grounding incident took place near Khalifa Bin Salman Port on July 15, last year, when the Junior Officer maneuvered the vessel to avoid a collision with a fishing boat, inadvertently steering it onto a shoal due to unawareness of the shallow waters.

The report highlighted the critical oversight of the Captain not being present on the bridge while navigating through restricted waters, which contributed to the accident. Fortunately, with the assistance of Bahrain’s tugs and favorable tides, the vessel was refloated the following day without any injuries to the crew.

Subsequent inspections revealed only minor scratches to the ship’s hull, indicating no significant damage occurred. 

Launched in 2006, the Alan Shepard is capable of accommodating more than 120 crew members, all of whom are civilian mariners holding a U.S Coast Guard License. The vessel primarily serves to transport cargo and other supplies to naval ships at sea. It is currently stationed in the Middle East, supporting the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group.