As disclosures in ‘Midshipman X’ case still cast a shadow over the shipping industry, Coast Guard warns that sexual assault has no place in the maritime profession and that offenders will be held accountable for their actions .
He encourages victims and witnesses of assault to reach out to make sure the allegations are investigated, including using a mobile app called CGIS Tips.
“Mariners have the right to work in a professional environment free from the threat of sexual offenses,” said Rear Admiral John Mauger, Coast Guard deputy commander for prevention policy, in an article published on the Coast Guard Maritime Commons blog. “Sexual assault is a crime. When it occurs aboard a US vessel, it should be reported to the Coast Guard. Trained Coast Guard investigators will respond and we will hold offenders accountable. “
Prevention begins as soon as a mariner seeks accreditation to navigate an American-flagged vessel. The Coast Guard Merchant Seaman’s accreditation process prevents convicted sex offenders from obtaining accreditation, whether or not the underlying crime was committed on board a ship.
EVERY REPORT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED
The Coast Guard says it is ready to investigate every report or clue alleging that a certified sailor has committed a sexual assault. The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) will investigate and gather additional information for all reports of sexual assault or other crimes at sea. Coast Guard investigators are working alongside Guard attorneys coast to ensure that they collect sufficient evidence to refer the case to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution. In addition, the Coast Guard has the authority to investigate and take enforcement action against the navigator’s credentials in order to prevent the sailor from serving as a Coast Guard-accredited commercial sailor.
“Coast Guard investigators are following all available leads,” said Michael Berkow, director of the Coast Guard investigative service. “But too often sex crimes go unreported. We encourage victims and witnesses of an assault to contact the Coast Guard, CGIS or local authorities to ensure the allegations are investigated. “
To facilitate timely reporting, the CGIS Tips app (available on both Apple and Google App Store) allows individuals to communicate anonymously with an agent through the app while also having the ability to upload images. and additional information directly from a smartphone or computer.
The app interfaces with federal, state and local agencies to facilitate timely information sharing. The Coast Guard receives an average of 15 to 20 tips per month, many of which have led to new criminal prosecutions. Reports can also be made on the Coast Guard Investigative Service website, through the tip form, or by contacting any regional CGIS office.
Climates aboard ships that tolerate aggression are detrimental to the well-being of sailors and maritime safety, the Coast Guard said, noting that “everyone has a duty to look after their fellow ships by creating a safe and respectful climate. on board”.