Last October a Marine helicopter collided with a Coast Guard HC-130 which was searching for a missing boat at night off the San Diego coast, and all people aboard both aircraft lost their lives. The results of the subsequent investigation were released yesterday and, frankly, I consider those findings to be a whitewash and as a Navy veteran I am outraged by them.
Navy air traffic control did not advise the Coast Guard airplane of the presence of the Marine training mission, nor did they advise the Marines that the Coast Guard was present. They gave priority to the Marine training mission, despite the fact that the Coast Guard was on a search and rescue mission, which should have received priority and required the Marine training mission to stay clear. The Marines were spread too far apart, with as much as a mile between units, which left the helicopter flying without the anti-collision lights that it would have been using had it been flying alone.
When a Coast Guard vessel is speeding in San Diego harbor and its collision with another boat causes one person’s death, Coast Guard officials not only find the sailors who were texting instead of maintaining a proper lookout to be at fault, they charge them with crimes.
When a Coast Guard airplane on search and rescue is brought down and its crew killed by the gross malfeasance of Navy air traffic control and Marine helicopter operations, the investigation finds that “no single factor, person or unit caused the mishap,” that no misconduct occurred, and that no disciplinary action is required.
I must say that the Coast Guard certainly comes across as the more responsible service here, and I believe that the Navy and Marine Corps dishonor themselves with these bogus findings.