Coast Guard Relieves Commander Following Deadly Collision

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February 21, 2023
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The Coast Guard has relieved a commander involved in a deadly accident last August off Puerto Rico.

Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Williamsz was relieved Friday as commanding officer of the fast response cutter Winslow Griesser for “loss of confidence in Williamsz’s ability to effectively command the cutter,” according to a press release issued Friday evening.

On Aug. 8, the 154-foot Winslow Griesser collided with a 23-foot fishing vessel, Desakata, in the waters off Dorado, Puerto Rico.

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According to a Coast Guard press release issued hours after the collision, the Desakata’s crew, Carlos Rosario and his brother Samuel Rosario Beltran, were injured and taken aboard the Winslow Griesser for transportation to a hospital. Carlos Rosario succumbed to his injuries.

None of the 24 crew members aboard the Winslow Griesser was injured, according to the Coast Guard. The cutter sustained only superficial damage and was cleared to resume operations shortly after the accident by the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board, Lt. Cmdr. John Beal, public affairs officer for the 7th Coast Guard District, said in an email Tuesday.

Following the incident, Williamsz was reassigned to shore duty at Coast Guard Sector San Juan. The accident investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board is ongoing, according to a Coast Guard press release.

Williamsz is a 2013 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He previously commanded the patrol boat Adak in Bahrain and led the Winslow Griesser during humanitarian operations in response to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in southwest Haiti in March 2022.

Williamsz was relieved by Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, commander of the 7th Coast Guard District. Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Gillen has been assigned as acting commanding officer of the Winslow Griesser while the service finds a permanent replacement.

— Patricia Kime can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

Related: Coast Guard Sidelines Cutter Commander After Mishap on Board

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