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Were ferry firings fair?

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, June 20, 2004

On behalf of the deck officers who were in command of the M/V LeConte when it grounded on Cozian reef on the morning of May 10, 2004, I want the citizens of Alaska and the traveling public to know that the captain and chief mate are profoundly sorry for what happened. They also wish to express their most sincere apologies and regrets for this terrible accident.

Additionally, they wish to commend the crew for their professional and responsive conduct in the exercise of their duties under the most trying conditions. The crew's outstanding attention to duty helped minimize further danger to the passengers and damage to the vessel.

Both deck officers have cooperated fully with the Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board representatives and the Alaska Marine Highway System in their investigations.

The Masters, Mates and Pilots organization has reviewed the events surrounding this accident and has concluded that there was an unintentional error in judgment that ultimately resulted in the devastating results. There were no apparent mechanical failures of the vessel.

There was no finding, however, of any misconduct or willful negligence on the part of the deck officers involved in this event. The International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots has grave concerns about the fairness of AMHS' decision to terminate the employment of the officers involved, as well as the fairness of the process leading to termination.

No one meant for this to happen and the other agencies investigating this accident have reached the same conclusion as that of our organization regarding the cause of the accident. The captain and chief mate again want to offer their apologies to everyone affected by the grounding.

Capt. Steven J. Demeroutis

Vice President, IOMM&P

Pacific Maritime Region

Seattle, Wash.



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