May 13, 2010
 
Deepwater Horizon Investigation Concludes Second Day of Public Hearings
 
Special to Huntingtonnews.net
 
Kenner, LA (HNN) - The Deepwater Horizon joint investigation board began the Marine Board of Investigation on Tuesday and Wednesday with two days of public hearings investigating the circumstances surrounding the explosion, fire, pollution and sinking of the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon, with multiple loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.
 
The joint investigation has the powers of both convening agencies, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Minerals and Management Service (MMS), and is co-chaired and staffed by representatives of both agencies. For the public hearing, the joint investigation is following the policies and procedures for a U.S Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation contained in 46 Code of Federal Regulations Part 4 and USCG policy (available on the joint investigation Web site: www.deepwaterinvestigation.com). The facts collected at this hearing, along with the lead investigators' conclusions and recommendations will be forwarded to Coast Guard Headquarters and MMS for approval. Once approved, the final investigative report will be made available to the public and the media. No analysis or conclusions will be presented during the hearings.
 
The hearings began Tuesday, May 11 at 8 a.m. and continued Wednesday, May 12 at 8 a.m. All witnesses who testified were sworn in and testified over the course of four sessions, with morning sessions concluding around noon and afternoon sessions re-convening around 1 p.m. The last session concluded around 4 p.m. Wednesday. Thirteen witnesses testified over the course of the two days.
 
The witnesses Tuesday were:
  • Kevin Robb, Eighth Coast Guard District command center search and rescue coordinator
  • Capt. Alwin Landry, master of the motor vessel Damon B. Bankston
  • Anthony Gervasio, engineer from the Damon B. Bankston
  • Paul Erickson, chief mate from the Damon B. Bankston
  • Frank Patton, Drilling Engineer, MMS New Orleans District
  • Eric Neal, inspector from MMS
  • Bob Neal, inspector from MMS
The witnesses Wednesday were:
  • Michael Saucier, MMS Gulf of Mexico Region
  • Capt. Vern Gifford, Eighth Coast Guard District prevention division
  • Lt. Cmdr. Michael Odom, Technical advisor for the Coast Guard Liquefied Gas Carrier National Center of Expertise
  • Lt. Barbara Wilk - Investigating Officer, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City
  • Capt. Thomas Heinan - Deputy Commissioner Maritime Affairs, Republic of Marshall Islands
  • Mr. Brian Bubar – Deputy Commissioner Maritime Affairs, Republic of Marshall Islands
The initial proceedings, held May 11-12, 2010, established the foundation for the investigation. Testimony included discussion regarding the search and rescue aspects of the casualty, accounts/actions of the vessel involved in rendering assistance to the evacuated crew, and all aspects of the safety net (USCG, MMS, and Republic of the Marshall Islands’ Flag Administration).
 
It is expected that there will be two or three more public proceedings of the joint investigation. The dates for these meetings will depend on the availability of witnesses, and any on-scene investigation which is being conducted to support the investigation. Subsequent proceedings will examine the corporate safety culture of the Deepwater Horizon owner and operator, leaseholders as well as the recovery, examination, analysis and evaluation of the critical drilling and blow out preventer equipment.
 
At this time, the second public proceeding is scheduled to take place on May 25-29, 2010, beginning at 8 a.m., at the Radisson New Orleans Airport, 2150 Veterans Blvd., Kenner, La. Witness lists will be posted by Monday, May 24, 2010 to the joint investigation Web site (www.deepwaterinvestigation.com). Raw video footage of Tuesday's and Wednesday's hearings will be available on the joint investigation Web site (www.deepwaterinvestigation.com) before the next set of public proceedings. Transcripts of all hearings will be made available to the media and public when the final report is released sometime in January 2011. The board has been given nine months from the convening date (April 27, 2010) to submit their final report to MMS and USCG.
 
For Deepwater Horizon joint investigation information: www.deepwaterinvestigation.com
For Deepwater Horizon oil spill response information: www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com



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