Coast Guard Blames Lax Safety for Deepwater Deaths

April 24, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

A Louisiana National Guard blackhawk flies over marshland on April 19. A year after the BP oil spill, BP claims that most of the oil has been removed. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries says, however, that much of the cleaning has been superficial, as the oil has seeped into the soil, killing marshes and further eroding the state's damaged delta ecosystem. (John Moore/Getty Images)
A Louisiana National Guard blackhawk flies over marshland on April 19. A year after the BP oil spill, BP claims that most of the oil has been removed. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries says, however, that much of the cleaning has been superficial, as the oil has seeped into the soil, killing marshes and further eroding the state's damaged delta ecosystem. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Systemic safety problems at Transocean contributed to the deadly explosion on the the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon on April 20 last year, according to a Coast Guard report. Poor training, poor maintenance, and a culture in which personnel failed to investigate accidents all contributed to the disaster, according to the investigative team.

It was common for personnel to bypass automatic safety shutoff systems, and people working on the rig had poor training to handle emergencies, according to the Cost Guard report.

"These deficiencies indicate that Transocean’s failure to have an effective safety management system and instill a culture that emphasizes and ensures safety contributed to this disaster," according to a Coast Guard statement.

“This investigation seeks to prevent an accident similar to the Deepwater Horizon by identifying the factors that led to the tragedy and making recommendations to remove or minimize those factors in the future,” said Capt. David Fish, chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis in a news release. “While nothing can bring back the 11 people who perished in this disaster, there is much that should be learned for the future.”

The rig was under the flag of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). That nation abdicated all responsibility for inspection and maintenance, according to the report, by delegating it to recognized organizations. As a result, no entity required inspections. The Coast Guard should take responsibility for making sure foreign flagged ships and rigs have maintenance and safety inspections, said the report.

The report, focused on what caused the loss of 11 lives, is 288 pages long. This was the preliminary finding, concerned with five aspects of the accident. The team studied the explosion and fire on the drilling platform, how people were evacuated, and how the Deepwater Horizon rig flooded and sank. The Coast Guard was examining the safety systems in place and making recommendations to prevent future loss of life.

The failure of the blowout preventer and massive oil release into the Gulf is still being investigated. It was the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history.

The team will issue a more detailed report on July 27. Numerous lawsuits and other investigations are in process.

To see the report, visit marineinvestigations.us under the marine casualty reports section.