Monday, April 28, 2014

US Coast Guard still stalling with FOIA release; MARAD update

It’s been FIVE MONTHS AND THREE WEEKS – 172 days – since I submitted my original FOIA requests.

Here is a brief update for the ongoing efforts to secure information about the illegal excessing, sale and export of STORIS for foreign scrapping.

I spoke briefly today with Evan Wisser, a MARAD attorney, regarding an appeal I submitted regarding information that was redacted/withheld in the March 11, 2014 partial release of information. He indicated that MARAD is currently compiling a second, larger batch of materials associated with STORIS and MARAD’s FOIA department is currently reviewing those materials prior to release. There is no indication as to when those materials will be available. There is also no indication whether that will be the final batch or if more records will come to light beyond that collection of materials. Meanwhile, he indicated that he will be reviewing my appeal of the redacted materials.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to be a MAJOR problem. A written appeal is currently en route via US Postal Service regarding the partial response sent on Feb. 27.

The Coast Guard claims that a search for maintenance records and logbooks for STORIS at the Office of Cutter Forces was unsuccessful and no records for the ship were found. This is a disingenuous response.  Knowledgeable Coast Guard veterans have told me that cutter deck logbooks are not kept at the Office of Cutter Forces, but are processed through the local Coast Guard districts where the ships are stationed and then forwarded to the regional branches of the National Archives for permanent storage. For STORIS, it was believed that engineering logbooks were sent to ISC Alameda and on to another storage location. As far as maintenance records, manifests and associated documentation, STORIS had been decommissioned for over 6 ½ years at the time of my request. It is my understanding that those types of records are archived or purged from the technical library at the Office of Cutter Forces when a cutter is retired, typically sent to the NARA facility at College Park.

It’s a matter of the Coast Guard administration knowing what happened to the records based on established protocol and procedures, but now not saying where they went. It does not seem right that the Coast Guard would outright dispose of or destroy the records associated with the ship’s career and history. It also stands to reason that the office that handles decommissioned cutters and excess equipment would have had to have some of the records in order to follow the procedures necessary to dispose of STORIS.

I’ve received nothing in response, not even related to the volume of recent correspondence triggered by the efforts to preserve the ship or her sale and export. I sent an email message to Amanda Ackerson of CG FOIA HQ on Feb. 14 requesting an update on the FOIA request. As of this writing, I have received no response.

The submitted appeal is here:

(Originally posted April 25, 2014)

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