Slack Cable Snag Caused Fatal Coast Guard Crash

The AP / Jay Barrett/KMXT

The Coast Guard said today that a slack cable getting snagged on a life boat during a drill caused the crash of a rescue helicopter in Hawaii last year, killing all four crewmen aboard. One of the victims was rescue swimmer David Skimin, formerly of Kodiak.

The report said extra slack formed a loop in the hoist cable that became snagged on a protruding pipe on the boat just as its stern fell in the trough of a wave. The cable snapped, causing the helicopter to abruptly lurch, damaging the aircraft’s rotor system. The helicopter crashed and sank within four minutes. The accident happened about five miles south of Oahu, on September 4th, 2008.

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen said the accident was a reminder that Guardsmen operate in extremely hazardous environments. He said the Coast Guard has since adopted steps to reduce the risk of hoist operations, including revising checklists and procedures, updating flight manuals and using shrouds to limit life boat snag hazards.

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