Collision cutter commander relieved of duties

Written by Nick Blenkey
Cutter commanded by Williamsz that was involved in collision

US Coast Guard Cutter William Griesser under way before the casualty. (Photo: US Coast Guard)

Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Williamsz was relieved of duties as the commanding officer of USCGC Winslow Griesser (WPC 1116), Feb.17. The Sentinel-class fast response cutter and the fishing vessel Desakata collided while underway off the coast of Dorado, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 8, 2022.

The Desakata was cleaved in two, and the two persons on board went into the water. The cutter recovered both persons: one had minor injuries, and the other was deceased. There was no pollution reported and no Coast Guard personnel were injured in the collision.

Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, effected the relief due to a loss of confidence in Williamsz’s ability to effectively command the cutter.

Williamsz had been administratively reassigned to shore duty at Coast Guard Sector San Juan immediately following the collision. Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Gillen is in command of the cutter to maintain operations until a permanent commanding officer is assigned.

The Coast Guard continues to cooperate with an ongoing investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board.

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