Failure Analysis    Many accident cases lead back to the failure of a single part.  Root cause analysis builds a logical and defensible theory based on the evidence, not conjecture. Professional training gives you the tools to identify and explain fracture morphology. I've studied and lectured on failure analysis of metals, wood, and fiberglass/carbon composites.  

  Metallographic specimen of a failed chainplate made from gunmetal (a brass). The cross section shows how the surface layer of metal has deteriorated due to dealloying. Note the cracks through the pink lacework of weakened surface metal.   

Metallographic specimen of a failed chainplate made from gunmetal (a brass). The cross section shows how the surface layer of metal has deteriorated due to dealloying. Note the cracks through the pink lacework of weakened surface metal.   

  This case began with a theory of a head on collision and criminal charges. A close look at the evidence proved that it was a crossing situation with at most 50/50 liability. 

This case began with a theory of a head on collision and criminal charges. A close look at the evidence proved that it was a crossing situation with at most 50/50 liability. 

Accident Reconstruction These cases often involve significant property damage as well as serious personal injury. There are no skidmarks on the water, so it takes specialized talents in assessing trace evidence to determine the angle and speed of impact. Having taught a course on accident reconstruction for ABYC for ten years and handling numerous cases over the years, I'm comfortable working with legal counsel to build a solid case.

Mechanical Failure Marine engine failures are becoming more prevalent and more expensive. In a pile of broken parts, can you sort out which let go first? The detective process of figuring out what went wrong in what order calls on a number of disciplines including a strong understanding of engine dynamics and metallurgy.  

  Note the hemispherical rings radiating away from near the oiling hole in this failed crankshaft out of an 1800hp diesel. This was positively identified as a defective part. The engine manufacturer made good on the engine replacement and everyone went away feeling that the system worked.

Note the hemispherical rings radiating away from near the oiling hole in this failed crankshaft out of an 1800hp diesel. This was positively identified as a defective part. The engine manufacturer made good on the engine replacement and everyone went away feeling that the system worked.

  This is a failed cold head on a piece of rod rigging.  The failure initiated at the flat sections at 1:00 and 6:00. This is a case of low stress/high cycle fatigue. The rig was not properly set up and was not disassembled or inspected on a regular basis. 

This is a failed cold head on a piece of rod rigging.  The failure initiated at the flat sections at 1:00 and 6:00. This is a case of low stress/high cycle fatigue. The rig was not properly set up and was not disassembled or inspected on a regular basis. 

Rig Failure A dismasting can leave a confusing (and expensive) tangle of parts on the deck. My background as a rigger has helped me understand not only the myriad of specialized parts involved, but also the loads involved to explain the sequence of failure. Was the loss caused by the force of wind- or a part letting go?

Ultrasonic inspection of composites   Carbon fiber masts and rigging can be difficult to inspect and fail in very different ways compared to traditional aluminum rigs. Take for example, a case of an alleged lightning strike to a carbon fiber mast. Was the failure due to lightning, or something else? Ultrasonics can be used as a non destructive method to assess both the integrity of the carbon laminate as well as to determine the potential cause of failure. 

 

  This failed carbon rig was inspected with an ultrasonic flaw detector and returned very poor signals. After sectioning the mast, it was found full of voids from original construction. If the owner had the mast scanned at the time of manufacture, it would have caught these defects.

This failed carbon rig was inspected with an ultrasonic flaw detector and returned very poor signals. After sectioning the mast, it was found full of voids from original construction. If the owner had the mast scanned at the time of manufacture, it would have caught these defects.

  Here's a scale model of a 23' Grady White that I built to help defend in a personal injury suit. The exhibit illustrated that the accident could not have occurred as the plaintiff claimed.

Here's a scale model of a 23' Grady White that I built to help defend in a personal injury suit. The exhibit illustrated that the accident could not have occurred as the plaintiff claimed.

Liability Bailment, comparative negligence, responsible party: the topic of who is to blame can be a  circuitous road. This work requires more than simply reconstructing an incident - it's a balancing act of defining reasonable practice. A solid report can provide your client with a credible and logical argument that can either avoid costly litigation or provide the ammunition necessary to prevail in court. 

Fire Investigation   Did the fire happen the way you were told? Sifting through a soggy pile of ashes to look for clues often times is the only way to nail down what really happened. A surveyor works in tandem with a Certified Fire Investigator to sort through the history, evidence, and witness statements on the hunt for the truth. The exercise is guaranteed to be dirty, probably frustrating, and possibly triumphant. I've spent years not only taking training, but also assisting in teaching this type of investigation.   

  This photo was taken from a marine fire/arson investigation seminar I helped conduct in NJ. We used salvage boats to stage various scenarios involving a mix of accidental and incendiary fires. The attendees were given clues and let loose to root through the debris.

This photo was taken from a marine fire/arson investigation seminar I helped conduct in NJ. We used salvage boats to stage various scenarios involving a mix of accidental and incendiary fires. The attendees were given clues and let loose to root through the debris.

For more information, see My Other Specialties

Please Contact Me if you have any questions or need a second set of eyes on something. 
My CV and samples of work product are available upon request.

 
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