Coast Guard Concludes Chambers Island Wake Incident

After a nine-month investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard has decided not to charge anyone in the Sept. 5, 2015, incident in which wake from the USS Milwaukee damaged a number of recreational vessels off Chambers Island.

“The marine casualty investigation determined that enforcement action against any of the parties involved would not forward the integrity of maritime safety and is therefore not warranted,” the Coast Guard said in a June 3 press release on the resolution of the investigation.

The USS Milwaukee is a 378-foot littoral combat ship that was built at Fincantieri Marinette Shipyard for the U.S. Navy. It is powered by four Rolls-Royce waterjets and can travel at a maximum speed of 45 knots (52 mph). At the time of the incident, the Milwaukee was undergoing pre-commissioning acceptance trials that included speed tests.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources assisted in the investigation and determined that 22 boat owners reported damages of more than $170,000 when their boats collided in the heavy wake from the Milwaukee.

The Coast Guard pointed out that the purpose of a marine casualty investigation is to determine root cause and contributing factors which led up to the incident but does not include the determination of fault for damages.

“As the principal federal agency responsible for maritime safety, the Coast Guard is always committed to ensuring the highest safety and performance standards for the maritime public and the maritime industry,” said Capt. Amy Cocanour, the Sector Lake Michigan commander. “We approach each investigation with the utmost diligence to ensure that each element of any potential violation is met before leveraging an enforcement action, which is only issued if all of the conditions are met for a given violation. The safety of the boating public is our number one concern and it’s our job to ensure that all vessel operators follow all applicable rules and regulations to ensure the safety and security of the maritime community.”

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