The U.S. Navy spends tens of billions of dollars each year building and repairing ships. But how safe are the shipyards where that work is done? Reveal investigates how lax safety has been allowed to persist at shipyards that thrive on military contracts.
The hour also will explore one of the newest warships in the Navy’s fleet and whether it’s living up to expectations. And we’ll tell the story of one man’s unexplained disappearance on the high seas.
Head over to revealnews.org for more of our reporting.
Follow us on Facebook at fb.com/ThisIsReveal and on Twitter @reveal.
And to see some of what you’re hearing, we’re also on Instagram @revealnews.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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from the centre for investigative reporting in p r ex. This is reveal analysis on the Friday before Thanksgiving late afternoon, two thousand nine Joey Petty had a job. Nobody wanted. He had to go into this tugboat the size of a large house in paint the crawl space on the engine room cycle to further back
foot by two foot, horseshoe shaped tank goes run out of the engines and they got holes in them. You got to crawl through or by the size of five gallon bucket. So I'm a small person,
guess who always got stuck in a little places. He knew was gonna, be uncomfortable
crawling around on his hands and knees, dragging a pain hose with a spray gun at the end, you also know is gonna be dangerous. You got a plastic ones goggles to keep the paint off his skin, but in a confined space like that, he also need industrial fans even with a respite.
The fumes could build up in his lungs like go on on water dive and went out air.
Raven O Simon
pain, but we enjoy
takes out the engine room. There aren't any fans, so he goes to his boss. Danny Cobb
not old Anacapa, said I'm not spraying that without no ventilation, he said with you, don't spray, you
Joey doesn't want to get fired on the golf course in Mississippi shipyard jobs
I some of the highest wages for workers without a college degree, but
so doesn't want to breathe in toxic pink fumes. So he scrounge is a fan from another ship and walked down the doktor. The tugboat resolves stepping on the boat at this hour of three bay
flashes explosions for a moment he just as
People start to stream out of the boat on fire
young Germany. They come out there.
Our near me. Here, man, his skin, which is driven off,
Robert. He was Robert. He was coming Herald far may any budget out
any budget around. He just woke up again.
Where is our air closure? Nuts and ages, were the two men still inside the boat? We're dead
Joey was a shipyard painter and SAM Blaster for twenty eight years, all across the country. So we asked him if he made a list of all, though shipyards from the safest to the most dangerous we're. Would he rink vis shipyard owned by Viti Halter
MTG altar DE would be between one slash, two and three slash four down unless they by a horse one by no. What does what you gotta places, but that's what you got to do to feed your family world of the world. The Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Alabama is kept afloat economically by the shipbuilding industry, but the shipbuilders,
kept afloat by you and me, and all the other. U S, taxpayers because most of the money going to companies like Viti halter billions of dollars each year comes from contracts with the? U S military reveals. Jennifer Gallon has been following those billions
didn't get the how the? U S Navy awards, contracts to shipbuilders and asking if those contracts make workers like Joey, more safe or put them in harm's way, he's Jennifer
the first guy Joey saw running off the boat, the guy who skin was melting, that was Brown aids. He actually survived and he's the key to understanding what happened in the boat that day and what happened after
he's now divorced and living at his moms house in MOSS Point Mississippi on a street. The dead ends at a swamp must be brave,
I met him there with my colleague Stan alkaline stand. Have a brain is thirty six,
but he carries himself like someone much younger. He slouches shovels as feed
and he's always drinking move here morning. Repair figure things
He shows us around the yard where there are these pitfalls chain to pose Lula, Dixie an Achilles, the water they look ferocious, but there actually quite
Achilles stands up on his hind legs and gives brown a big hug and then
we go inside to me, brands, mom, Liz, three families
ten people live in her small three bedroom house. I've still got accounts free because brown slave centre client
If we adopt in this House Abram, his mom has stepped out his brother and his sister in law. They all worked in the shipyards, so they know
to dangerous job, but nothing could have prepared
As for what she saw at the burn unit that day she
our sun, with burns over half of his body and his head. It was severely swollen, reverse some. I thought my god he's here. Look like a basketball when at the sun you knock on survive. This you're not gonna, live one of the darkest tell you where they give. Tell me with a day to day thing
It's only told me. They did tell me that he can never hold a job in the sun
again or in heat, or anything like that, because he or have a sunstroke and healed.
Before he knows it. That's because the burns on his,
arms legs back and chest left him unable to sweat. The doctors also told is that, because of
head injury. Brim would have short term memory problems like Uptown Brown, goofy dogs in here walk out there.
The bucket any standard look around any offset the book down
Look at around new tallies confuse cause. I can't remember what it was gone. Do massive goofy dogs, pram, oh yeah, and pick the bucket Hills,
art and he'll. Look around again a hymn. Setina laugh them down
never get paid today.
Bet afternoon. We went with Brown back to the shipyard. We also took joy, petty the painter witness explosion,
glad to see? You do know day rule
The better it was the first time they
seen each other, since the accident billion shows are all looking for you
There is a worm, her beauty,
Walter Wooden lead us towards a shipyard,
so we can
about up the past, go wherever passing. Shipyards left and right
Both joy and brain had worked, and
you're. The dockyard brand calls it better.
Halter shipyard in Escanaba. The deal
explosion, RAM enjoy were working on a tugboat being built for private shipping company. It was floating right here next to this dock.
Brown was getting the engine room ready, so Joey could painted. He was using.
Even aluminum. Foiled cover all the vows and pipes. At the same time, other workers were prepping crawl space underneath the engine
Graham couldn't see them, but he starts
smell the paint and are there were cleaning with it was walking
Out of the manhole nearest speed lesson:
I welcome and told him. Then it doesn't bother smoke
is making me nauseous, making me sick to my stomach
I said this morning that her, like that,
by law. Someone should have been testing the air in the crawl space, but no,
did it should
been ventilated with powerful fans, but it wasn't so the paint than fumes were
building up in the air to what investigators later determine was more than six hundred times the legal limit, the suggestive
Stop you fingers like that. Just a person from your fingers wrote that could cause that explosion, so they
I've been using explosion, proof, lights, lights,
have barriers to isolate heat and sparks which keeps him from igniting any flammable papers, but a guy working with brain
I'm told him. The men underneath were using it.
And of lights. You might find in your garage brand walk back to the man Hall,
Tell him aside and argue medium.
John cylinder given in lights and get out, but they gave me a lighter and.
Orange fireball shot out of the hole, Brim instinctively put his hands down to protect himself, and then he pulled them up to shield his face that replace Mama Consular sizzler skip.
City. O city is skip on one word german ss, but it does all day everyday and never goes away, never stops. I had nightmares for a while.
Her lot anger issues. Therefore, while a personal life were pushed, my kids were pushed the boat away from me, tell had fallen,
How to deal with and I live with it-
I wonder why I don't smile the way I used to smile, it's kind of hard to force a smile. Sometimes you know name you replay that
Your mind cancel all day every day, I'm tormented twenty four never goes away on about till. We tells me
something he hadn't heard before you see them. Rusty old losses
pain on different colors, owes a game boxes. Gang boxes, look like
I ain't toolboxes. There
scattered around the shipyard. Joey tells brand
some of them contained unused explosion, proof lights and fans. They could have prevented the explosion, but Joey says they're boss, Danny Cobb kept those gain boxes under lock and key.
They were learning bodies,
They were usually get mixed up in that order. More Amanda Paint budget version that would interfere with his moments.
Early pisses me off
more worried about his bonus news
nor was over the phone
Danny Cobb, denied Joey's story, saying it was crazy before hanging up, but a second painter, David Gillette, independently confirmed it
to really understand what happened. Abram. I felt like I needed to see another shipyard inaction, so I found one
your by that was building a very similar tugboat Steiner shipyard
It's a feeling,
shipyard and its fairly small compared to BT halter, but they're a crane swinging, huge pipes and work
hers, welding together the skeleton of a fairy. I speak with Steiner
if your its owner Russell Steiner inside the engine room of the tugboat, the whole time
dozens of men in hard. Hats are working all around us balancing on wooden flanks
following engines. Are we doing
all the electrical work for the engine alarm system. This almost has to be completed at one time. Next,
Thus there is a manhole down to the bottom of the boat, a lot like where the explosion started. A bt hotter, my colleague stand asks if some
who is going to queen down there with paint them where they take
as ever cleaning Goodbye banner
Muscle says when they work for the chemical, its toxic or flammable. They do it with proper fans and explosion prove lights, but in a cramped hard to.
Delayed space like the one below us here,
Baby, a vacuum cleaner and wire brushes would be what we would be working all, but we just wouldn't go inside at take and put a man with paint them when Vt Halter failed to test the air for flammable gas when they failed to use explosion, proof lights, invented
they were breaking federal law and the official enforcing that law. That was this guy good afternoon, welcomed irresistibly. Thank you so much for twenty three years.
Clyde Pain was in charge of the local office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, and we
other saw the sage in here
several million workers in Mississippi for clients, team of fewer than
twenty safety inspectors, making sure that all these workers were safe was like trying to hold back the ocean.
These facilities aren't getting frequent inspections me.
Maybe once a year, maybe
a few years back to inspect all facilities motion, not staff for that in
add plight and his team of investigators are generally reactive. They going after something bad happens. He
his team went dvd halter the day after the explosion. The physical damage was not is massive issue, not thank, but you just feel the emotion of the loss of life in the air.
For months? They would come by collect evidence in interview employees, but Joey Petty the painter resolve
a thing happen says they. Never,
His side of the story, every time they appeared, he says his boss, Danny Cobb.
Send him to work at another Viti halter shipyard, I was pretty
vigour amounts and smart man. When another domain,
OSHA's, walking through the gate and get a phone call, and you got to go come on man on plane
before you, nobody knows regulars gone all in all my darling known his eyes. What do you think they are
did you tell her the truth?
even without Joey's testimony would OSHA found was damning veto
halter admitted they didn't just break the law. They broke it seventeen times for
twelve of those violations, including the failure to use ventilation explosion, prove lights, they either broke the law on purpose or acted with quote plain indifference: to employ safety.
The secretary of labor. At the time, Hilda sallies called
explosion, horrific and preventable. The company had to pay a fine of more.
Eight hundred and sixty thousand dollars. Viti huh
decline. Numerous request for an interview, but Clyde Pain, says the fines and bad press should give them an incentive to clean
their act, I think, in the long run, the find themselves less profitable, though, will lose business from some companies,
but BT halter didn't lose business from one major customer, the? U S, navy. Just a month after the accident,
eighty halter one, a Navy contract worth eighty seven million dollars to build a survey bustle
his name, the Mari and christened by LISA Jackson, the former
Epa administrator under President Obama may God at all. During my investigation, I found this was a recurring pattern. Syria,
injuries and deadly accidents followed by large federal contracts. Since brands accident
the Navy's given BT halter more than three forty million dollars in contracts. The money flowed in
even as another worker was killed,
lid of assent, lasting part tour into his face and another
was blinded in a crane accident, and that's just one company over that same
The federal government is awarded at least ninety one billion dollars in contracts to shipbuilder cited for serious safety lapses.
I wanted to find out why this was happening.
So I set up a call with now see the pie.
The navy that actually overseas ship construction good morning,
early out there. Yes, good morning to you guys the call was with the press, Guy Dale ANG
to engineers, Tracy Bela and MIKE Adams. I started by asking how
They are safety. After a contract assigned the operations
you'll for now see staffers says they don't enforce federal workplace safety laws in private shipyards. Is that right they ship?
Nor has the responsibility to abide by all federal laws in it. That's a bite in the terms of the contract they seem too
two answers to all of my questions. One was that they pay attention to safety all the time your lady other was it the safety of workers employed by private.
Contractors isn't their responsibility. Here's Tracy's colleague MIKE Atoms,
We're saying: hey, wouldn't where we're not taking care of the shipyard workers.
Our job there did. The shipyard takes care of their own workers, they treat their orders. In fact, the shipyard has massive Save II programme for all
I had all the long as you say they catch one of us working on their shipyard. Doing unsafe they'll, kick us off the art. So, if you're not is
see, doesn't have an enforcement role. Then, if safety hazard emerged, how would it be treated? Can you sort of take me through each step back our lot, the record they do this a couple of times.
He also put me on whole twice easier. The to Taiwan as Rebecca sure I still
want to know how the award of contracts to companies like Viti halter in the first place. I ask them if they considered accompany safety record at all, but the most I got was this. I think, to answer your question about fifty influencing future contracts for us to sit here and say that it.
I mean you didn't do this argument, Ngos or you didn't do that be a ye are therefore no you can build the next. Whatever I own, I think that's not acted.
Like. They say two scenarios, OSHA increases standards, in other words,
The Navy saying safety, that's oceans, job but think about Viti halter after the tugboat explosion, OSHA
in them hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the Navy gave them a contract for more than a
hundred times that amount, as long as the Navy keeps handing out contracts like that shipyards, don't have much more financial incentive to become less dangerous.
I want to ask the Navy about specific contracts in companies, but after TAT,
we may there were officials who could talk specifics and a second call I may be the best way for us to do is go to another interview. A Navy spokesperson told me no one
was available, whatever the justification. Clyde pain, the former OSHA director in Mississippi, says when the Navy contracts with companies like Viti huh,
turn it sends the wrong message. When the government doesn't take his business someplace else soon messages sorrow.
We're not gonna measure you by your side to help performance and step up in May and measure companies by their safety and health performers,
the part of the contract, then we're not doing the right thing. While the Navy was
on with BT halter for hundreds of millions of dollars, you may wonder how much Viti halter was paying the survivors of that tugboat explosion. In the case of RAM Aids, the answer is zero, but not for lack of time.
He talked of personal injury lawyer skip. Think Bonner would you have chosen to see
Viti halter, if you could have absolutely, would have absolute why their responsible. For this I mean
Is there a solvent? It was their rags, it was their buckets, it was their non exploded, prove lights, it was their hall,
It was their job and they told guys what to do. Of course, out of suit. Halter Marie
Why didn't you well, there's a bar, but legally we can't do that. The law,
it almost impossible for injured workers to sue their employers. Instead, payments from workers, compensation insurance are supposed to take care of them
ram. He got a hundred thousand dollars and workers comp roughly what he'd make in three years working full time in shipyards, but remember
he can't work and the heat anymore and roofing in shipbuilding are pretty much. The only work has ever done so he's trying to use that hundred thousand to set up the rest of his life. He took me to see how
a short drive from his moms house. We come to a neighborhood of small houses in our vs thereon stilts.
Pull areas flooded during the rainy season any need a boat to get home. The people here call them camps. Brands does seem to me.
Sorry here inside the dry walls,
finished and the electricity is out. He can afford the power bill outs.
I'd themes, holding up the floor or falling apart and a huge tree is leaning on the roof. How much is it going to take to fix this place of honor for about ten thousand photo take for you to have ten thousand eyes like when do you see having the monies finishes?
Don't you have a moon? He can't work. He can't sue and the only
irons, BT, halter paid for the explosion went to the government, not the survivors,
hundred thousand dollars and workers compensation, it's all brown God and he spent all of it. When I think back to the accident brim. Do you ever feel like I could?
gotten more. I should have done more sure, got more
should this not be fully remodel and wise and done had money? Do you ve got a time about everything else that are needed in a boat? May he calls and partisan furniture
to those young money was young, quick in our boat without nothing nation, Muslim.
Are you sure one data center lighter suddenly? Are you two months after we visited branches? Still sleeping on us
answer: Kleiner BT halter. On the other hand, they just want to contract from the state of Virginia through building a fairy for sixty
a half million dollars, those Jennifer Garland and the story was produced by state awkward for more.
A short film about another Viti hold a worker who miraculously survived green accident girl. I website reveal news dot, Org, those tens,
Billions of dollars a Navy contracts we talked about without Number- might be about to go up because President Donald Trump has promised to expand the nations fleet next week on board. What was supposed to be a ship in the future?
and later in the show we had to the Pacific Ocean where man, whose job it is to help make sure efficient both play by the rules, goes missing at sea.
We are on a boat where there's like two hundred through an you, it's easy to get rid of you to do it. They need to do to make money and an open one.
Since its a war for money for tuna, so life is respected differently out there you listening to reveal from the zone.
Or investigative reporting and p r, Ex from the centre for investigative reporting in p r eggs. This is reveal a malady lady holder. The company we just heard about is one of only eight shipyards in the country that builds ships for the Navy. Everything
mass of aircraft carriers too small patrol boats to nuclear attack submarines and these companies could soon be winning even more contracts. President Trump is pledging to expand the nation's fleet big time from its current two hundred and seventy five to three hundred and fifty to meet that goal. The navy would have to spend at least fifty percent more on ships than it does right now up to twenty five billion dollars a year according to the congressional Budget Office. Right now, U dot S. Naval ships are all over the world from the South, China Sea,
the Middle EAST, when their mission is over. Many of them will come here to the San Diego naval base. The day we visit starts off rainy with things clearing up by early afternoon, the massive gray halls along the peer gleam in the sunlight in american flag. Snaps overhead naval officers salute one another, as they pass by reporter Suki Louis is here to check out what the Navy his touted as one of the most versatile ships in the fleet. The? U s s independence, is a new class of ship called electoral combat ship. It promises to be a swiss army knife
sleek, agile and deadly. It looks totally safe. I more space ship than worship. The sharp aluminum knows jets out into the San Diego Bay, like a giant gray razor that angles into a wedge toward the back. The underside
lifts out of the water like two wings. So from the front, I can see straight through to the back.
Rotating fifty seven millimeter gun sits atop the ship. It can hit a target more than ten miles away.
I walk up a narrow metal walkway into the ship welcome aboard,
It's me on that modern commanding officer, Beggin person said it welcome warriors its independence, Lieutenant Aaron Beacons, slim twenty seven year old, with brown hair tucked under her navy cap as the only fee
Male crew member? She gets her very on bathroom and bank as we pass through. I noticed some light reading on her desk ancient roman philosophy and are you reading Seneca? Yes, Erin loves the Navy and she
loves this ship, while she's only been on the independence for a few weeks, she spent most of her two and a half years in the service on literal combat ships like this one lateral means coastal. These boats were built to fight and shallow water either. Incredibly fast says. Relief under Dr Thy is actually all this thickened Lang added.
I wish it myself. In the bats ego at these ships, are trying to lift up out of the water. So so I have asked it
lower than are really fast speedboat. Easy, like zipping Aaron walks me through a big
open back, maybe twice the size of a high school Jim, where they store and swap out different mission packages. These are modules that each have a different function, destroying mines, fighting surface boats and attacking submarines
The unique concept, but it didn't come without its engineering challenges. So is the tour wraps up. I have to ask area as a whole for you,
although size, everyone on board, we got a lot of success than many while the Andrea power in its been effective. I say goodbye to the first lieutenant she's shipping out to Singapore, so
by the: U S: s, independence isn't going anywhere. It stand behind protesting those reports, Suki Louis Ensue.
The aim of those engineering problems you mentioned are really big deal. In fact, even before these futuristic ships hit the water, they had major issues deal peace, Andrew John Mccain held a hearing about the ships in December, taxpayers are paid for and are still paying for, twenty six ships that have demonstrated next to no com.
Capability. This is unacceptable and this committee wants to know who is responsible and who has been held accountable
So what we are left with now is the fact that these ships have little chance of survival in a battle space. That's Michel, makin of the government accountability office. She testified before Congress about boats like the: U S, s independence. She says all that unique capability they were supposed to deliver. That was,
over promising. They cannot operate independently and combat scenario, and them
Angela, swapping of the mission packages, has not pan out either. All of the problem,
since the Navy made to convince Congress to fund this programme have really are degraded over time. Meanwhile, the original price tag has more than doubled to about for honey.
In seventy. Eight million dollars per ship and almost every ship that's been delivered, has had major defects, we're talking about
clutch assembly failures, main propulsion
So engine was contaminated with sea water. There have been some hall cracks. That's on some of the ships Michel says not all. Maybe ships eleventh the? U S, fleet with its advanced technology, is the most
powerful in the world and to stay that way. The Navy says it needs room to innovate, to try new ideas, even if some fail, but Michel says if the Navy was smarter about
How goes about buying new ships? They wouldn't fail on such a large scale, the big
This problem is really that the Navy tends to begin constructing these ships before the design is fully understood and
table, and that has definitely been the case with electoral combat ship. I would actually call this pro,
grandma poster child in a way for what can go wrong with Navy shipbuilding programmes. I just wanna go back a little bit because you, you said something that I know it is kind of. Does it make sense to me so the Navy
starts, putting money into ships that they re.
We don't know or actually gonna work that is correct.
And there are lots of reasons why that happens. One is just a desire to get the whole
in the water as soon as possible. Another, quite frankly, is to keep the U S ship, building industrial base
busy desert me were actually giving contracts to private companies. Just keep those companies in business to keep jobs going. That is done
currently part of the story here and I think for shipbuilding is particularly apparent, because shipbuilding is a lot of jobs. I mean it just as Michel.
The other big issue is that the Navy cells Congress on the idea of a new type of ship by under selling how much it's going to cost remember literal. Combat ships ended up costing double what they were supposed to. Michel says this is our biggest concern with the proposed expansion of the name. Is the public getting a realistic picture of how much it's gonna cost? Are we getting our monies worth? For its part? The Navy says it is making changes to how'd buys boats, so we can build its fleet in the most efficient way possible, but for now it's not
scrap the literal combat ship programme. I am absolutely confident that the ships are ready to do the mission sets that we ask him to do. That's Commodore Jordi Harrison he's in charge of,
of electoral combat ships in San Diego, we are some if he worries about sending sailors out on these boats. If I was concerned, I would tell you:
I wouldn't certify the the ships to go. If I am not prepared
to go. Do the mission said I'm not goin to send people do go, do
for me ill prepared.
Well resourced. Do we
I will tell you that
class of ship every word
our system, that's developed by the military at sums,
age or another goes growing pains according hairs in these growing pains are a necessary part of testing out new designs and technologies. The failures of the literal com,
that ship programme have already told the Navy a lot Harrison's is in those lessons have value, even if it's just learning what doesn't work.
If you like me and you live and work on land,
hard to imagine what it's like when something goes wrong on a ship in them,
of the ocean like. Where do you turn? Would you call next week to the dangerous waters off the coast of South America and pieced together the mystery of someone who, one day vanished from his ship? That's coming up on reveal from the centre for investigative reporting and p r eggs from the centre for investigative reporting. Mp are ex. This is reveal a mallet. Our next story takes place. Hundreds of miles from shore, the Pacific Ocean
but this time we had a border warship instead of weapons. This ship is loaded with fish song like playing, rejoined, wrote it out at sea
current shovel vessel in two thousand to of key Dave's a man in his late thirties, suntan windswept low scruffy, videotaped himself, sitting down cross legged on steel, graded deck of cargo ship holding a ukulele went counting the ship gently Bob's as it charges over the silvery Blue Pacific, the sun setting in the distance Keith works on the ship he's, what's called a fisheries observer, and this song is inspired by other observers who died on the job plans we
fishery observers have got to be one of the most important jobs you ve never heard of their inform its basically, they live on board commercial fishing boats and carefully document each all their job is to prevent overfishing. They also keep an eye on fishermen who will sometimes try to pass off one type of fish for more expensive one by cutting off heads in fence
just one: primo tuna can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. There's big money on the line. So imagine how welcome observers like Keith are on Board Van climbed. Over the years hundreds of observers have reported, being threatened, intimidated and sometimes sexually harass according to federal government and other sources. Other observers have been offer bribes to look the other way. Over the past decade, at least nine have lost their lives at sea
foul play is respected in three cases. A few years after Keith recorded the song moralising observers, it was playing at his own memorial Keith disappeared on the job in September, two thousand fifteen and an annual conference official observers last summer hundred or so of cheese colleagues gathered to remember him on the beach insane
Diego his father, John Davis, shuffle up to the MIKE anyone knows Keith knows who he is nothing daily were wrong, especially me. Devastated by this, awfully good will come out of this convention and we can save the lives of any observer out there. Let's get it done, let's make service out there safe. So how did a man who is known as a stickler for safety just disappear from the ship on a calm day? Did he commit suicide? Did you have a heart attack a fall of board or, as many of keys, friends and family have wondered?
did somebody killer, it's a mystery that reveals Tom Canoes and has been trying to solve for months. The first thing I wanted to do was reconstruct the last day of keys life so wanted
Arizona to meet his father, John Davis.
Show me some of the notes, keep talk on board. The ship federal investigators had returned them to him. He can see the date here, nine hundred and ten, two thousand and fifteen eight hundred and thirty five in the trunk I'll number, eight hundred and eighteen is alongside that's the
that he disappear September. Tenth with just another morning. The winds were light. They were
five hundred miles off the coast of Peru and Commercial fishing boat had pulled alongside to offload its ketchup. Tuna keys job was to monitor the transfer of fish onto his refrigerated cargo ship, the Victoria one six eight. This was the last Trans shipment of the journey and it turned out to be kissed last trip to as any
Parry knows you just sit there you're always wondering what really happened. You know I also saw out keys boss, Brian below he deploys observers across the Pacific
for his company M Rag, America's yet case at work for us,
there's an observer, high, multiple programmes, very professional individual. That
I enjoyed the work that he did from what we can tell from keys notes. He finished documenting the fish transfer
two thirty, then he was seen walking to his cabin to put together as paperwork, so he could sign off on the declaration. That's the official record of the transfer when he didn't show up
that declaration. They went to look for him and that's when they realise that he was missing
immediately. The captain order to search the cruelty
everywhere and turned up nothing. The captain sent them back to do a full sweep a second and the third time. Nothing
Finally, a ten thirty that night
happening got on the Marine radio called authorities in Peru. No one answered
indications, went out from the Victoria till the ship's manner
you're in Panama, Turkey's boss in Alaska, but it wasn't until five twenty five. The next day more than
for twenty four hours later. That word got to the: U S: coastguard! Yes,
Isn't that can undergo span commandment?
and directed the coastguard search for Keith. When we call we had known that the vessel that originally reported it known as the Victoria ones.
They had already been searching for some period of time. Every
second mattered: the water temperature in the Pacific was sixty six degrees, the coastguard estimated
You can only survive a few more hours. They had known-
chance of getting there in time. So little
he'll Mary using com
generated coordinates directing the Victoria one six, eight and other nearby boats to areas they were most likely to find Keith in all,
They scoured about a hundred and ten square miles, but it was like searching for
basketball in an area the size of Philadelphia. Two days
later. They called off the search keys, boss, bramble, aim
It is all very hard. It is as a company as far as our friends of Keith and as an observer community as a whole that something like this could happen,
the unfortunate thing is sometimes things like this do happen. Something else was going on to Keith, had seen things out at sea the troubled him in the weeks
leading up to his disappearance. Keith had seen fish coming aboard so heavily carved up. He struggled to identify them. He D made
the federal fisheries biologist asking. How can you tell the difference between a big guy and a bluefin with no fins and head? He might have been worth. The crews were catching the more value,
What bluefin tuna and passing MA
does bigeye to get around catch limits
but there was only one way to send those emails through the captain's computer so its past
Well, someone I saw them. Keith also sent a cryptic email to his father. This vote is a little bit different thing. I've ever seen before and I'll tell you all about. When I get back.
As it turns out, tension between observers and crew is not unusual. I spoke with many a
servers and nearly all of them had stories are being harassed attain their
and they work with observers all the time she recently at the former observer, who knew
told me about one tail from the South Pacific. When I worked with the Pacific Island fishery, they had
in an observer who is thrown overboard and they found him holding onto floating debris or whatever its bookcases extreme.
But observers often find themselves unwelcome on board what they see and what they report can get in the way of profit
you're the only one out there when you we're on a boat where there's like two hundred through an you, it's easy to get rid of you to do it. They need to do to make money. That's open water and hence its a war for money for tuna, so life is risk.
Differently out there. In the United States, reports of observer, mistreatment and abuse have jumped from twenty eight in two thousand and nine.
Seventy nine and two thousand fifteen on the part of the ocean were Keith. Worked. Figures are harder to come.
By what is known is that this fishing area is a wild west like frontier we're boats legal.
Illegal are chasing schools of tuna worth millions of dollars.
Drop down to the middle of a bunch of Harry S.
A drink in the irish smoking. Hers were guys. Reuben Beazley is a hard drinking hard smoking observer himself. He's from Saint
I'm Newfoundland, Canada he's been at it for
forty years. He was a body of case and he knew his friend wasn't afraid, but heads
he saw someone breaking the rules. He may be sure
Dolphins made a note and said okay, but, as you don't like, will report this when we get back, but no one case, he probably didn't and should happen.
So, who is supposed to find answers when bad stuff happens in international waters? Keith was on a cargo ship that
flying a panamanian flag, which means it was Panama, responsibility, Michael Burka, as director of the? U S, coastguard investigative service.
Ships in international waters that arm flagged by other countries, amount of you has jurisdiction, is virtually none still use coastguard
ass to be involved and was invited down to board the ship when it returned the Panama ten days after keys disappeared. But not long.
The investigation started pantomime,
authorities pull the plug allowed us to be part of that investigation? For about five?
I e mail panamanian authorities about their investigation, but they didn't respond. What we do now,
Always Panama, finished its investigation last year and said they didn't find evidence to bring charges against anyone. Panama didn't produce a report, as typically happens in the: U S that left keys, family and friends in the dark.
His father, John Davis, puts more the blame on an organization called the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission. It subcontracts with observer companies to get data on fish pond
relations. This is why these were my anger. Comes in these conditions that are not doing the right thing by protecting.
Service out there and saying they are the director of the Tuna Commission
May observer management is not its responsibility, and in two thousand and sixteen report it didn't even mention case disappearance.
Now all observers in the fleet carry satellite texting devices so they can communicate independently, but keys. Dad believes authority should crack down when boats lose an observer yet cannot punish her neck in the pocket book taken offline. You can fish out there for yet another thing I think twice about score serve at that such is not the case.
Because we see what happened to my son, the? U S, delegation to the Tuna Commission also wants to see more done this year. It plans to urge the commission to take action to better protect observers, from harassment and in
parents, but none of that will answer what happened to Keith. For now, his friends can only speculate
the panamanian investigators, if they know anything, haven't told the coastguard.
There was one stone. Let them turn the Victoria one succeed itself late. Last year I discovered the boat. Was
imported tobacco Monti, north of Panama City, but in twenty four hours,
It was heading back out to sea so producer. I trees. Condor Roger Pact is recorder. Hopped on a flight to Panama.
And by the next morning he was walking up the gangway with Alex Chan, the agent for the Victoria one six eight. So we just boarded the Victoria one hundred YAP dialectic say
Alex handles all the paperwork and logistics for the ship. He was one of the first people contacted when Keith went missing. The ship is nearly as long as a football field, the deck
with industrial equipment of one sort or another. There are cranes, there are chains, there are police, there are big dick ropes. This is where hundred
The tonnes of fish are offloading dropped into super chilled hold to be brought back to Shore Asia. That is like taught that they can haul one thousand two hundred tonnes of fish. One thousand two hundred and how long with this ship go out two months two months
Much Alex leads Ike towards a middle rear. Part of the vessel was called the house, a three story: high structure,
that contains all the living quarters smells like asian food
salt, water and cigarettes. One floor up was keys last residence, a tiny cabin with justice,
room for a single bed and an airplane style. Folding trade to hold a laptop or Keith might watch a movie,
the day a desk to prepare, as notes a drawer
behold a survival suit he had brought along in case the ship went down. One narrow staircase up is the captain's bridge. It's the cockpit of the ship, with glass windows looking out in
somebody always appear yeah. If there's somebody always here, how do you miss when somebody goes over the edge? Does they say the mystery? Not nobody knows what happened
including me down in the mess Hall Roy Murdoch, is getting ready for breakfast he's a new observer.
From the Solomon Islands he's heard of key Davis.
But it doesn't seem to worry him a tragic situation and I'm MIKE, unless it's god of the family and friends, and try not to think about it. Yeah, that's right, it's a lot of a job and it happened even heavier than it happens. Roy Historical,
There is about his job for the next two months. His home will be the high seas. His job to monitor the catch
Roy and the estimated twenty five hundred other observers out there are trying to make fishery sustainable without
losing their lives,
um yeah, you know, is we have a lot of brothers in the past two went down in in the front lines like the ocean. I have friends would be better to see if it's nothing new to me
or is key throat in song. They
down to the sea. Some say loss. Maybe he's been found. That story was from Tom Canoes with producer countries can to Roger as it
So the? U S, coastguard has done a separate investigation of Key Davis's disappearance, but is now
yet released the report a year and a half after keys death. Many of his friends are coming to grips with the facts,
that they may never know what happened to him
our show, was edited by talk. You telling me this stand out.
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-21.