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Guilty Verdict in D/V CONCEPTION Captain’s Federal Criminal Trial

In the Labor Day 2019 D/V CONCEPTION casualty, 33 passengers and one crewmember perished, all below deck in the passenger bunkroom as the dive excursion vessel burned to the waterline just offshore Santa Cruz Island, near the California coast. The U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted the vessel’s captain for gross negligence under the Seaman’s Manslaughter Act. The DOJ press release on this past Monday’s jury verdict finding the captain guilty is linked here:


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U.S. Coast Guard Shares Lessons Learned From Recent Small Passenger Vessel Fire Investigations

The Marine Safety Alert draws from casualty investigations, including the D/V CONCEPTION casualty in which 33 passengers and one crew perished, and includes admonitions on use of open flame candles, Sterno heating cans, and plastic trash cans, storage of combustible materials close to ignition sources, and clearly marking engine room escape hatches.

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Fred Goldsmith Sworn Into Bar of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Fred Goldsmith was honored today to be formally sworn into the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts by the Honorable William G. Young, one of the Court’s preeminent and erudite judges, who is also an expert on the Court’s history of hearing admiralty and maritime cases.  Fred intends to practice admiralty and maritime law and serve as a mediator in the greater Boston and Cape Cod regions.  Fred was formally admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 2022.

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Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Murder, Attempted Murder, and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon Aboard Scallop Boat

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced on March 9, 2022, a crewman aboard a scallop boat has pled guilty in Boston federal court to one count of murder in the second degree, one count of attempted murder, and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon.  Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez, 31, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs on June 28, 2022.

The rampage occurred on September 23, 2018, aboard the F/V CAPTAIN BILLY HAVER while about 55 miles offshore Nantucket.  Meave Vazquez allegedly struck one fellow crewman on the head with a hammer, then stabbed another several times with a long fillet knife, before striking a third crewman as he climbed a ladder out of the ice hold.  He then struggled with the captain before climbing the boat’s rigging, at which point the captain made this dramatic distress call using the boat’s VHF radio – recording courtesy of Maritime Reporter TV and the U.S. Coast Guard: https://youtu.be/8uPHqK0gIGs

It appears the captain at first could not hear the Coast Guard and nearby vessels, including a Maersk container ship, answering his distress call.

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National Academy of Public Administration Report Critical of U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

A fascinating, comprehensive, critical, at times alarming, official report on the state of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and by implication our nation’s merchant marine readiness in the event of war, has just been released by the National Academy of Public Administration. It is entitled, “Organizational Assessment of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy: A Path Forward,” and linked here:


The report addresses, among other things, crumbling infrastructure, lack of oversight by the Department of Transportation, overworked and over stressed faculty and midshipmen, a white male culture, and systemic shortcomings on campus and during commercial shipboard training in the realm of prevention of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The report includes throughout its 274 pages many concrete, actionable, no-holds-barred, recommendations for the Academy, located at King’s Point, New York.

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