Two items today, recall the dark side of being a Coastie:
Navy Times reports that Commander Coast Guard District 17 charged, Lt. Lance Leone, the co-pilot and lone survivor of the crash of an MH-60 Jayhawk off La Push, WA, July 7, 2010, with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty, and destruction of government property on Sept. 30. “An Article 32 hearing to determine whether Leone will be court-martialed is scheduled for early December…Witnesses told local media at the time that the helicopter was flying at a low altitude and crashed into the Pacific after clipping power lines…The crew was flying the helicopter home to Sitka, Alaska, after it finished a maintenance and upgrade period in Astoria, Ore.” (Because Leone was co-pilot, and presumably not pilot-in-command, I’m curious why these charges were filed.)
The Coast Guard Compass remembers the sinking of the Cutter Cuyahoga, 33 years ago today with the recollections of Cmdr. Gordon Thomas IV (ret) who survived the collision as an officer candidate.
An update on the proceedings against the Helicopter co-pilot.
Charges against Lt. Lance Leone, co- pilot of the helicopter have been dismissed:
“Because Leone was co-pilot, and presumably not pilot-in-command, I’m curious why these charges were filed.”
As the navigator, he did not do his job in identifying the hazard. They are clearly marked on the sectional charts.
He isn’t out of the woods yet. Another article speaks of upcoming administrative actions.
He may not be out of the woods, but apparently his navigation plan would have avoid the hazard. The pilot departed from the plan and in buzzing a boat at less than 500 feet, violated FAA regulations. He knowingly departed from the plan and violated FAA regulations so telling him that he was doing that probably would not have made a difference.
I question why the aircraft’s GPS did not provide an audio warning of the hazard. Systems with that capability are common in General aviation now.
R 151955Z OCT 21
FM COMCOGARD FORCECOM NORFOLK VA
SUBJ: 43RD ANNIVERSARY OF THE LOSS OF USCGC CUYAHOGA
1. On October 20, 1978, USCGC CUYAHOGA (WIX-157) was underway in
the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the Potomac River on a
nighttime training mission when it collided with the 521-foot
Argentine-flagged freighter M/V SANTA CRUZ II. The impact of the
collision was so devastating that USCGC CUYAHOGA sank in two
minutes, taking 10 Coast Guardsmen and an international officer
with it. Eighteen crewmembers survived the incident.
2. USCGC CUYAHOGA began its career chasing rumrunners during the
Prohibition and then served as the tender for the presidential
yacht POTOMAC. During World War II, it spent the majority of its
time in the Caribbean Sea escorting Allied vessels between
Guantanamo Bay, Trinidad, and Paramaribo. In the late 1950s, it
became the training cutter for the Officer Candidate School (OCS)
in New London and moved to Yorktown with the OCS in 1959.
3. In 1977, the year before its loss, USCGC CUYAHOGA celebrated
50 years of commissioned service. At that time, it was the oldest
operational commissioned ship in the U.S. sea services. At the
time of its loss, USCGC CUYAHOGA was the last remaining cutter of
4. USCGC CUYAHOGA sinking – and the USCGC BLACKTHORN (WLB-391)
collision and sinking 15 months later – resulted in improvements in
Coast Guard cutter policy, doctrine, training, and standardization.
The Service created the Prospective CO/XO Afloat Course, mandated
that all CO/XO/OODs pass the Deck Watch Officer Examination,
required prospective CO/OINCs to conduct underway familiarization
rides, and promulgated the Commandant’s Cutter Navigation Standards.
5. In the aftermath of the USCGC CUYAHOGA tragedy, the Service took
vital steps to improve safety in afloat operations, but tragedy
should never serve as a catalyst for better safety standards.
Today, Service leaders at all levels are trained to mitigate risk
and ensure that Coast Guard operations are performed as safely as
6. We honor the sacrifice of those Coast Guardsmen who perished
aboard USCGC CUYAHOGA over 40 years ago by adhering to the lessons
learned from that tragedy, strengthened by the knowledge that they
did not die in vain.
7. Two ceremonies will be held to memorialize USCGC CUYAHOGA.
On Monday, October 18 OCS will host a ceremony on the campus of the
Coast Guard Academy. For further information, please contact
LT Martin Betts at (504) 671-2157 or Martin.B.Betts@uscg.mil.
On Wednesday, October 20, a ceremony will take place on the grounds
of Training Center Yorktown. For more information, please contact
LT Samuel Guinn at (757) 856-2241, Samuel.R.Guinn@uscg.mil.
A detailed history of USCGC CUYAHOGA is available at:
(Copy and Paste URL Below into Browser)
8. Please pause to reflect on our lost shipmates of USCGC CUYAHOGA
and remember their service to our nation.
9. Semper Paratus.
10. POC: Susan Giedt, Training Center Yorktown Command Planner,
11. RDML M. W. Raymond, Commander, Force Readiness Command
12. Internet release is authorized.