The two patrol boats arrived late at the refueling docks at Tybee Island, Ga., on April 13. It was Saturday evening, and the reservists from Coastal Riverine Squadron 10 were a little more than halfway into their training transit from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charleston, S.C.
Planned as a 12-hour-long daylight trip, the coastal cruise had seen some delays and was likely to slip past nightfall before the 34-foot-long boats tied up in Charleston. The crews were getting tired.
Back in Jacksonville, the squadron’s acting commanding officer, Capt. Adrian Garcia, convened a “go/no-go” meeting. His staff favored stopping the mission, as did the boat crews’ leadership. But Garcia decided to push forward. Both crews got underway and throttled up to speeds of more than 25 knots to make the final 80-mile leg.
Night fell as the boats steamed north.
At 9 p.m. the lead boat, PB 502, was driving at an estimated 28 to 30 knots when it struck a jetty near Charleston harbor. The jetty’s rocks tore into the aluminum hull. The impact caused serious injuries to three crew members, according to a newly released investigation.
I missed this when it came out back in April, I guess.
What strikes me isn’t the risk adverse nature of the military (that’s old news), it’s the apparent inability of a unit devoted to coastal operations to operate along the coast at night.