Capt. Peter SquicciariniCapt. Peter Squicciarini
Capt. Peter Squicciarini is a licensed master mariner and marine safety specialist at the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command in Portsmouth, Va. He has worked on towing, passenger, and fishing vessels, and was a safety and compliance manager for an East Coast tug and barge company. He also served in the Navy as a surface ship officer and commanded several warships. He can be reached at pdsquicciarini@msn.com.

Blog Activity

Dirty Harry’s marine safety

“Dirty Harry” tells us “a good man always knows his limitations" — the same applies to mariners. Dirty Harry – played by Clint Eastwood as the tough cop in the movie of the same name and several others in a series – really understood what safety is all about. We all know the famous line: First, “You've got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” Another favorite, from “Magnum Force”: “A good man always knows his limitations.” Our nature as mariners is...

Don’t become a statistic

Drowning is an ever-present risk, but you can take steps to avoid it. Every year, the No. 1 cause of death in this industry is going in the water. I’ve blogged about it before, and a number of recent drowning fatalities is why I am blogging about it again. If you fall overboard from the boat, barge, or dock, you have a good chance of not coming home from your hitch. The other causes of death on boats and barges are much less common than drowning. Think about it — you work where it is...

Do you know your vessel's true dimensions?

How do underway conditions affect your vessel’s dimensions? What’s your draft? Do you think you know what it is by reading the draft marks or – if load lined – your Plimsoll marks? How about the beam and air draft? The key dimensions of your boat are numbers that you better have burned into your memory – and maybe even on a plate fixed to the wheelhouse bulkhead. No matter how well you know the numbers, the aforementioned dimensions are valid when the boat is tied up to the pier. When...

Mariners, give thanks

Thursday's holiday is worth a moment's thought. Last year I blogged about Thanksgiving, and as the holiday approaches, it’s again time to take a moment to reflect and be thankful. Get past all of your complaints and the ills of the country we constantly hear about from the talking heads on the news. Life isn't perfect or fair – sorry. But when you stop and think a minute, life is pretty good for most of us. Be mindful of those less fortunate. Be thankful for your family and friends....

Let there be (LED) light

LED lighting is the way to go. The future of navigation lights has arrived. LEDs (light emitting diodes) are the latest leap in navigation light improvements. In a previous blog (“Let There Be Light”) I wrote about navigation lights and Rules of the Road compliance. Navigation lights are part of the Coast Guard Examinations and Law Enforcement Boardings. They can be an item during investigations should you have a collision during hours of darkness or restricted visibility — see Rule...

History repeated in El Faro

The tragic loss of the El Faro is an all too familiar scenario. The sinking of the El Faro and loss of 33 lives was a tragedy of incalculable proportion. Important questions are being asked about the casualty and will be discussed for years to come, but this is about how history repeats itself. Any ship can be victimized by Mother Nature and the oceans. The last ship billed as “unsinkable” was the Titanic. We know how that worked out. Archimedes principle basically says that if you fill...

Full speed ahead, caution be damned!

Foolishness and complacency do not excuse unsafe behavior. File the following incident under true crime, not science fiction. The National Transportation Safety Board has just released its report into the 2014 allision of offshore supply vessel Tristan Janice with a natural gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico. I usually read all NTSB marine accident briefs for the lessons learned, or rather re-learned. It's good stuff, and this one was too good (bad) to pass up. Here are some excerpts...

When things go bad

If you’re in the business long enough, you are going to have a bad day. If you’re in the business long enough, you are going to have a bad day. Hopefully it’s just a towing “fender-bender,” where nobody gets hurt, there’s no pollution, and it isn’t too expensive. If the incident rises to a certain level, there may be an investigation by company management, the Coast Guard, or in severe cases, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The main value of an investigation is to learn...

Line snapback and lost limbs

Line snapback is the deadly “rubber band” effect — the snapback of a parted line can sweep the deck with you standing on it in less than a second and with almost supersonic speed. Snap, crackle, pop — and we’re not talking Rice Krispies here. We’re talking about the chance of losing a limb, or worse, in a line handling accident called a line snapback. Line snapback is the deadly “rubber band” effect — the snapback of a parted line can sweep the deck with you...

The ‘best’ makeshift rigging

I probably shouldn’t write about some of the more creative “jury rigs” I have seen, so don’t get any ideas.   I probably shouldn’t write about some of the more creative “jury rigs” I have seen, so don’t get any ideas. The first challenge was selecting just a few from the encyclopedia of onboard jury rigs I have seen, especially on towing vessels. I still have nightmares. So many jury rigs but so few words allowed in my blog. So, in no particular order,...