It is a guideline and not a procedure or rule for several reasons. First, there are many different types of MFIs, and it is unlikely that any one procedure would work for all. Second, it would be virtually impossible to write a procedure that would be adequate in all cases. Different groups of investigators will approach a given project with different goals, funding levels, and access to sophisticated equipment. A number of case studies are included throughout the text to provide insight into some typical investigations.
New technology is rapidly making the seas transparent. Wrecks, thought lost forever, are being found and investigated. The means of accurately investigating them, such as with ROVs, are becoming progressively less expensive while greatly expanding in capability. People interested in sunken ships range from amateur divers, to television film crews, to fully funded, nationally sponsored accident investigators.
The Society of Naval Architects and Mrine Engineers (SNAME) Marine Forensics Committee felt that a set of guidelines on wreck investigation could be of benefit to the entire community. These guidelines will be valuable to a range of investigators. The following are some expected uses of the guidelines:
- Training U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) officers who are rotated into new positions every few years and who need to get up to speed fast in order to lead an MFI
- Training civilian law enforcement and forensic professionals who are unfamiliar with operating in a marine environment
- Aiding amateur divers and television film crews, helping them to know what to look for in their investigations
- Acting as a guide to avoid disturbing valuable evidence
- Acting as a training tool when established investigating authorities hire new people
- Acting as a go-to checklist for professionals planning an investigation
- Providing a guide to the available case studies and investigation-process papers that exist in the technical literature.
The purpose of this guideline is to introduce the scientific process in the course of identifying and gathering facts and evidence relating to an incident or casualty aboard a marine platform. Such evidence and findings may be the subject of litigation; however, Guidelines for Marine Forensics Investigations the provisions of this document may be helpful in identifying remedial means to mitigate the likelihood of a similar occurrence.
This guideline was designed to be useful to the investigator and other interested parties who may be involved in assessing a marine incident or casualty and who do not have a set of guidelines to instruct them.
The scope of this guideline addresses incidents aboard marine platforms that may involve loss of life, loss of property, or relate to a condition that may have resulted in loss of life or property (e.g., temporary loss of steering control or propulsion power, etc.) The scope and intent of this book differs substantially from the American Bureau of Shipping’s (ABS) Guidance Notes on the Investigation of Marine Incidents, which was published in June of 2005. That document describes root cause analysis practices and provides such things as sample data collection forms. It proposes general logical trees for pursuing the investigation of any type of industrial or marine incident. The ABS document is a useful adjunct and reference document. It is written in the style of the other ABS rules documents.
The ABS document does not discuss the typical tools or techniques for performing an actual investigation at sea, as these SNAME guidelines do. The ABS document does not discuss the interactions of ship or search equipment with the ocean environment, as the SNAME document does. Both have their uses, but they are very different books. The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents, published November 27th, 1997, comes closer to the aims of this book; however, it is more concerned with the legal responsibilities of the states, including the flag state, the state that the casualty occurred in, and any other state concerned due to the ownership of the ship, cargo, or nationality of the affected crew members. The appendix of the IMO code contains excellent checklists describing the data that an investigator needs to gather in the course of an investigation.
The scope of material covered in this document is limited by the ability of the editors to find subject matter experts who were willing to provide material and reviewers who were willing to read and tweak the material included. Additional chapters on a range of subjects will hopefully become available in later editions.
Known “holes” include but are not limited to the following:
- Investigation of offshore energy extraction platform accidents
- Sediment transport and how the complex bio-geo-chemistry affects the preservation or deterioration of artifacts
- Investigation of sunken buildings such as at Port Royal, Jamaica, and along coast lines around the world
- Forensic navigation and the use of shipwreck patterns to chart trade routes of the past Guidelines for Marine Forensics Investigations
This guideline is organized into five parts:
1. The guideline begins by describing the investigations that the panel has accomplished, typical types of marine casualties, and what damage is often associated with plunging through the water column, bottom impact, and subsequent deterioration.
2. There is a section describing the investigation process with liberal use of examples based on the previous activities and publications of the panel.
3. A section describes typical tools used in marine forensics investigations including divers, ROVs, manned submersibles, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), etc. This section is intended to provide the investigator with sufficient background
so that he or she knows what can and cannot be realistically expected from the different tools at their disposal.
4. An overview of ship motions and other hydrodynamic analyses and how they figure into an investigation or constitute an investigation in their own right comes next with examples. This section is written from a practical rather than a theoretical viewpoint and should be understandable to most readers.
5. The marine environment affects an investigation at three points. First, what was the environment doing at the time of the casualty? Second, what has it done to the wreckage since the casualty? And lastly, what will it be doing when the investigation team arrives to begin work? This final section describes the sources of data on the currents, waves, winds, and other marine phenomena and how to extract them to aid in an investigation.
HYDROSTATICS AND STABILITY
TYPICAL FAILURE MODES IN MARINE FORENSICS
HULL AND SHIP STRUCTURE
HYDRODYNAMIC FORCES AND MOMENTS DURING SINKING
DAMAGE AND FAILURE CASCADE ANALYSIS
MARINE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION TECHNIQUES: ROOT
HUMAN FACTOR CONSIDERATIONS FOR MARINE FORENSIC
HUMAN REMAINS IN MARINE FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS
CONTRIBUTIONS OF FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY TO
RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS OF HUMAN REMAINS FROM
MARINE FIRE INVESTIGATION
SHIP STRUCTURAL RESPONSE UNDER BLAST LOADING
ELECTRONIC DATA RETRIEVAL
FORENSIC INVESTIGATION OF MARINE ELECTRICAL
FORENSIC INVESTIGATION OF ROPES, CABLES, AND
BUOY AND MOORING SYSTEM FAILURE ANALYSES
CORROSION IN MARINE FORENSICS: WRECK
LEGAL ASPECTS AND THE USE OF STANDARDS
OVERVIEW OF TOOLS FOR UNDERWATER
REMOTELY OPERATED VEHICLES
AUTONOMOUS UNDERWATER VEHICLES (AUVS)
LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS (LARS)
SEARCH AND INSPECTION SYSTEMS
HYDRODYNAMICS OF TOWED SEARCH SYSTEMS
WAVE-INDUCED SHIP MOTIONS (SEAKEEPING)
FORENSIC MODEL TESTING
DEEP WATER FORENSIC WRECK SURVEYS
ANALYSES OF DEBRIS FIELDS
SALVAGE OPERATIONS AND TECHNIQUES
SEARCH EQUIPMENT HEADACHES
IN SITU VERSUS POSTPROCESSING PHASES OF THE INVESTIGATION
EXPEDITION DIVE SERIES PLANNING
MAPS AND CHARTS
UNDERSTANDING THE ENVIRONMENT
OCEAN SURFACE WAVES
ABBREVIATIONS, ACRONYMS, AND GLOSSARY