A Coast Guard inquiry into the sinking last October of the service's training ship Cuyahoga in the Chesapeake Bay has found the vessel inadequately staffed and poorly equipped and its skipper inadequately trained.
The 37-page, fact-finding report draws no conclusions and does not fix blame for the nighttime colision between th Coast Guard ship and the Argentine freighter Santa Cruz II in which 11 crewmen died.
Its findings, however, are almost identical to those of a separate investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which earlier this week faulted the Cuyahoga's commanding officer, Chief Warrant Officer Donald K. Robinson, for the collision.
The Coast Guard report was forwarded yesterday to the Coast Guard subcommittee of the House Fisheries and Mechant Marine Committee. The subcommittee has scheduled a one-day hearing on the collision next Tuesday.
The cuyahoga, with a hole 10 by 15 feet in its ritht side, was raised from the floor of the bay 10 days after the incident occurred, after divers had retrieved the bodies of crewmen trapped inside.
The report said that five of the victims died of drowning, four suffered fractured skulls and two had broken necks.
Despite the intricate salvage operation, which Coast Guard officials said yesterday cost $250,000, the Cuyahoga will be sunk again later this month off the Virginia coast to become part of an offshore fishing reef.
The coast Guard report cited as a key factor in the collision a left turn ordered by Robinson only moments before his ship was struck by the Santa Cruz. Had Robinson kept the Cuyahoga on its course, the report said, the ships would have passed safely less than half a mile apart.
In addition, the Coast Guard found that the ship's magnetic compass deviation table was out of date, use of the ship's ladders was "impossible" upon impact, there was no emergency generator and that the ship's emergency lighting was inadequate. It also cited testimony that the general alarm was not working properly.
The report further stated that openings made below the ship's deck "by cables and miscellaneous wiring" may have "compromised" the Cuyahoga's watertight compartmentation. These discrepencies, according to the report, were noted in two inspections (1975 and 1977) "but were not corrected."
The report also said that despite three Coast Guard inspections of the Cuyahoga in 1973, 1975 and 1977 that found the vessel undermanned, no additional personnel were added.
In addition, prior to taking command of the Cuyahoga on June 17, 1977, Robinson -- a 26-year veteran -- received a letter from the Coast Guard recommending that he obtain additional training and suggested two courses: one in nautical "rules of the road," the other in navigation and shiphandling. Robinson did not take the courses.
"Rather," the report said, "all his training was described as 'practical.'"
Robinson, who is now assigned to a personnel office at the Coast Guard station at Yorktown, Va., said yesterday he had not read the latest report and declined further comment.
The report was drawn up by four Coast Guard officers who participated in the six-member board of inquiry that held public hearings on the collision last fall in Baltimore, Yorktown and Norfolk. The remaining members were representatives of the National Transporation Safety Board, and did not contribute to the Coast Guard document.
Coast Guard Commandant John B. Hayes is expected to release the service's conclusions and recommendations, including possible disciplinary action against Robinson, within the next several weeks.