In this Issue:

Over 40 Years of Marine Forensic Analysis

ATA Associates Expands Its Maritime Resources

The Captain’s Corner

From Bob Swint's Vault

Over Forty Years of Marine Forensic Analysis

Over 40 years ago, in our first case, ATA became involved with the investigation of a pleasure boat accident involving the ejection of an occupant from a moving boat and the propeller strike injury that followed. Marine forensic analysis has developed as a foundation discipline for ATA. Our staff has spent decades developing techniques for the testing and analysis of complex marine accident investigation.

ATA has been exposed to a wide variety of marine cases. The following is a sampling of our commercial and pleasure craft marine activities. For more details visit our website at

ATA supported the defense of a U.S. Coast Guard coxswain in a court-martial concerning the nighttime collision between a Coast Guard patrol boat and a vessel carrying spectators viewing a Christmas boat parade in San Diego Bay. Among the issues examined in the case and addressed by instrumented testing of the subject Coast Guard boat was the dynamic performance of the boat as it went on plane and the relationship of the boat’s dynamic performance to the operator’s line of sight from his position at the helm.
The bulk cargo ship Maersk Constellation was being loaded with bulgur wheat at a dock on the Houston Ship Channel when it began to take on water through hull damage alleged to have occurred during an earlier fuel bunkering operation. In the litigation which followed, a fuel barge operator was sued for the total value of the lost grain as assessed by marine surveyors. In aiding the defendant, ATA devised a mathematical model of the leak in the hull and an accompanying timeline which illustrated the slow progression of the cargo loss during a 48-hour period in which ballast alarms and other evidence of the breach were ignored by the ship’s crew. In a settlement which followed, the defendant’s portion of the total assessed loss was significantly reduced.
After a barge collided with and knocked over an electric transmission tower at the Houston Ship Channel, ATA used the camera matching facilities available with 3D-animation software and the few existing photographs of the accident’s aftermath to prepare a complete graphic model of the overall environment with which key events in the accident scenario and their relationship to each other could be described and understood.
In an incident involving alleged anchor damage to an offshore production platform’s subsea umbilical, ATA provided consulting input to our client which included the physical inspection of the recovered umbilical, which was almost two miles in length, and a trajectory analysis of the anchor alleged to have caused the damage. The dynamic model of the anchor’s movements was based upon global positioning system (GPS) data from the vessel trailing the anchor, a computational model of the changing shape of the anchor cable’s catenary as the anchor was hoisted while the vessel moved under the influence of stormy seas and topographic survey data for the seafloor in the area of the incident.

ATA has worked on numerous projects involving incidents on offshore oil and gas rigs. There is often no substitute for 3D-animation to quickly establish a scene or to succinctly explain the relationship of systems and components in the complex offshore facilities environment.


ATA Associates Expands Its Maritime Resources

ATA is proud to announce the expansion of its Offshore/Maritime Industry resources supporting litigation for domestic and international cases in the admiralty/maritime legal arenas. Amongst the services we offer are:

● Accident Reconstruction ● Collision Investigation
● Environmental Impact and Remediation ● Cargo Damage
● Hull and Machinery Failures ● Marine Design

As an integral part of this expansion, veteran maritime consultant Sal Litrico has joined the ATA team of maritime experts. One area our team will be monitoring is the recent incident involving the sinking of the U.S.-flagged merchant vessel "El Faro" during Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahama coast.  All hands, (thirty-three lives) were lost at sea in this most tragic event.  This case will test the boundaries of "limits of liability" (see Jones Act of 1920) and could potentially generate landmark case law and a wave of litigation.


The Captain’s Corner would like to highlight the Greater Houston Port Bureau, which is “a member driven non-profit dedicated to promoting the maritime community, providing vessel movement information and offering members premier networking and advertising opportunities to drive business.”

Check out their comprehensive and informative website at:

They place particular focus on vessel movement information, maritime issues and port businesses, concentrating on the Houston Ship Channel and the Texas Gulf Coast. The website also has an excellent digital magazine section with lots of interesting articles. Enjoy!


This issue’s vault will take you to our special Maritime Services webpage, which contains an array of demonstrative graphics, imagery and links to videos and 3D-animations that were instrumental to the reconstruction of these cases.

There are short descriptions that accompany the graphic examples that take you on a tour of a shipping cargo incident, an incident in the Houston Ship Channel, incidents occurring off shore and two cases involving the U.S. Coast Guard.

ATA Maritime Services