Kyle McAvoy Marine Safety Expert

Kyle McAvoy, Marine Safety Expert

Kyle McAvoy (Captain, US Coast Guard Retired) is an expert in Marine Safety with over 26 years of experience in all aspects of ship inspections and marine incident investigations. He applies his expertise to forensic investigations involving the commercial and recreational use of our inland, coastal, and international waterways and shorelines. Kyle's casework includes collisions and allisions, marine engineering failures, and industrial mishaps at landside maritime facilities.

Kyle McAvoy, Marine Safety Expert - Robson Forensic

Kyle's distinguished career in the Coast Guard's Marine Safety and Prevention programs included inspections of all types of commercial ships, the investigation of both major and minor maritime accidents, the review and approval of engineering proposals involving ship construction or modifications, and the development of national policies and procedures that will direct the Coast Guard into the coming decades. While Kyle investigated numerous casualties throughout his Coast Guard career, two of his most publicized investigations include the Athos I and the Lady Mary. The Cypriot tanker, Athos I, struck uncharted river bottom debris which led to a 265,000 gallon crude oil spill that shut down the Delaware River for several days in 2004. The Lady Mary was a scallop fishing boat that sank off the coast of New Jersey in 2009, costing the lives of 6 fishermen.

Kyle has several distinguished Coast Guard awards, including a Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, and a Department of Homeland Security Secretary's Gold Medal. He earned a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, as well as a Master of Engineering (ME) in Manufacturing, both from the University of Michigan. He also has a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Mathematics. Kyle has been published in Coast Guard periodicals and presented in various forums on Coast Guard regulatory compliance issues. Kyle is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).

Experienced in the many facets of marine safety within the maritime and boating industry. This includes casualty and incident investigation, waterways management, naval architecture and marine engineering, U.S. Coast Guard mariner credentialing, incident reconstruction, the development and implementation of national and international standards of care, marine environmental stewardship, hazard analysis, ship inspections, safety training, etc.

Honorably served a 26+ year career as Coast Guard officer. Retired from military service as a senior officer at the rank of Captain (O-6). Coast Guard marine safety career progressed from a field level inspector and investigator to a senior executive position responsible for establishing national policy.

Vessel Inspections – Inspected/examined commercial vessels to verify compliance with safety, security, and environmental stewardship standards, and to ensure they were fit for their intended routes and service. Evaluated credentialed/professional crews to assess their requisite competencies and contributions to marine operations. Inspected vessel and boat types ranging from small water taxi’s to internationally trading ocean-going vessels (tankers, freighters, ferries, charter boats, oil and gas industry supply and support vessels, fishing vessels, etc.). Enforced mandated compliance regimes as included in the governing standards of care, including international and domestic laws/regulations, classification society rules, interagency agreements, and adopted/accepted technical standards and other developed policies.

Casualty Investigations – Investigated vessel and personnel casualties/incidents to determine causal factors, assess personnel and/or owner/operator liabilities and to take relevant enforcement action if warranted, including criminal/civil/administrative action. Analyzed casualty trends and assessed potential hazard and/or risk factors facing ports, waterways, vessels, facilities, mariners, longshoremen, passengers, etc.

Waterways Management – Maintained and managed hazards to navigation, and potential hazards within the U.S. Navigable Water’s, i.e. the Marine Transportation System (MTS), to minimize deaths, personal injuries, and property loss or damage (including pollution prevention). Activities included but were not limited to creating and managing safety and security zones, managing ice seasons, anchorages, vessel traffic restrictions, marine events, and aids to navigation.

Naval Architect/Marine Engineer – Used advanced education (master’s degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) to review and approve engineering and technical ship design and modification proposals to appropriate international and domestic regulations and policies, on behalf of the U.S. government.

Senior Executive – Carried out special projects on behalf of the US Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy. Led the Coast Guard’s program to create, update and/or maintain the service’s ship inspection programs. Drafted and promulgated national policies as needed and worked to ensure high competency levels of the Coast Guard’s Marine Inspector workforce.

Professional Experience

Robson Forensic, Inc.

Associate

2016 to present

Conduct technical investigations and analysis, and provide reports and testimony as needed to resolve commercial and personal injury and property damage litigation matters within both the commercial and recreational maritime domain.

Coast Guard Headquarters

Office Chief, Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance Policy

2012 to 2016

Led a national program comprised of four divisions.  Three dedicated to governing the Coast Guard’s inspection and examination of both U.S. and foreign flagged commercial vessels and offshore facilities, and one dedicated to policies relative to credentialing professional merchant mariners.  Within the first three, analyzed ship/boat/facility compliance trends, hazard/risk trends, and established inspection hierarchies and procedures designed to improve safety, security, and environmental stewardship/protection.  Studied newly implemented and pending international regulatory mandates (SOLAS, MARPOL, STCW, etc.) and developed inspection execution strategies to facilitate industry related improvements towards compliance with safety standards.  Developed and implemented national policy standards (including federal regulations) to achieve the compliance safety improvements and to complement the international standards as needed.  Established Coast Guard inspector qualification standards, core competencies, and training standards to improve how Coast Guard federal regulations and other standards served to protect crew, passengers, material, and the environment.  Shaped the U.S. government’s implementation and development of national ship inspection and examination policies to ensure the safety, security, and environmental compliance of all commercial vessels.  Examples and areas of focus included, but were not limited to:

  • Appeals. Maintained the final authority on behalf of the Commandant to resolve mariner and ship operator appeals. Included formal appeals of official decisions made by USCG Commanding Officers, and Officers-in-Charge, Marine Inspection. Developed and maintained policy determinations as a result of appeals challenging Merchant Mariner Credential (License) issuance decisions.
  • Articulated Tug-Barges (ATB). Oversaw the analysis of ATB manning standards to evaluate minimum safe manning levels to ensure safe ATB operations; ATB’s unique designs and operational characteristics relative to traditional ship designs and mariner responsibilities altered certain aspects of the industry.
  • Environmental Stewardship & Ballast Water Management/Invasive Species. Examined and affirmed alternate compliance methodologies while Coast Guard approval of Ballast Water Management Systems was maturing. Collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and developed new guidelines and technical objectives to enforce pollution prevention protocols within MARPOL and relative to Environmental Compliance Areas (ECAs).
  • Emergent threats. Oversaw expedient national policy directives when needed. For example, to minimize the threat of Ebola entering the U.S. via maritime vectors, established new maritime reporting protocols to support World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) efforts.
  • Fishing Vessels. Established programs to meet the 2010 Congressional mandates for the examination of commercial fishing vessels.
  • Flag State Inspections/Port State Control Examinations. Responsible for the ongoing development of Coast Guard inspection and examination policies to be executed under the regulatory authorities of the Coast Guard’s Officer-In-Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) and the Captain of the Port (COTP), within all field commands.
  • Maritime Security Program (MSP). Oversaw the implementation of consolidated national policy governing ships inspected under the MSP
  • Merchant Mariner Credentials (Licenses and Documents). Oversaw the development of strategies for compliance with the requirements of the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) and all domestic credential (license) developments
  • Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Oversaw the continual evolution, analysis, and development of compliance policy applicable to the complex OCS oil and gas industry.
  • Parasailing. Oversaw the collaboration between the Coast Guard, water sports association members, and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), to develop voluntary standards for commercial parasailing operations.
  • Third Party Organization (TPO) procedures. Oversaw the development of new TPO options and authorities within 46 CFR Subchapter M leveraged as new inspection programs for the Towing Vessel fleet. Critically analyzed TPO processes used and delegated under the Coast Guard’s Alternate Compliance Program (ACP) to better determine how the Coast Guard could optimize and harmonize its authority and oversight procedures to maintain safety standards and minimize hazards and risks.
  • Waterways Management. Worked to decrease hazards and risks on the waterways due to the growing trends of more vessels using the country’s Marine Transportation System (MTS), including recreational boaters and commercial marine traffic creating mixed-use waterways.

Coast Guard Headquarters

Traveling Marine Inspector
Advisor to Offshore National Center of Expertise

2008 to 2012

On behalf of the Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, led USCG inspections and investigations on challenging and unique cases beyond field unit capability. Examples and areas of focus included, but were not limited to:

  • Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Established and managed the Coast Guard’s OCS – National Center of Expertise. Advised Coast Guard and industry experts on newly developing and complex inspection issues and policies. Assisted in the Coast Guard investigation of the Deepwater Horizon casualty.
  • USCG/NTSB Marine Board of Investigation (MBI). Led the investigation and chaired the formal proceedings to determine the cause of the sinking of the fishing vessel Lady Mary, a scallop fishing vessel that claimed the lives of 6 crewmen.

Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, Philadelphia

Chief of the Prevention Department

2004 to 2008

Led 150 plus member department to ensure the safety, security, and environmental stewardship of the maritime domain in the PA, NJ, & DE Tri-State region in accordance with applicable standards of care. Led and managed inspectors, investigators, and responders in how they carried out their duties. Imposed operational restrictions or controls as necessary to minimize hazards and risks (including pollution threats) and to maximize safety and security. Vessel inspection assessments evaluated hull integrity (strength/watertight integrity), machinery/engineering systems, lifesaving systems, fire protection systems, navigation systems, stability characteristics, etc., to ensure vessels were fit for their intended route and service. Trained new Coast Guard Inspectors and Examiners on all processes. Reviewed and inspected technical modification proposals for regional US commercial ships in accordance with applicable standards. Conducted ship and personnel casualty investigations to determine an incident’s cause and evaluate the need for regulatory or other standards of care improvements, as well as assess any potential responsible party liability. Oversaw two regional Aids to Navigation Teams (ANT’s) to enhance and maintain the management of the waterways, i.e., waterways management. Examples and areas of focus included, but were not limited to:

  • Casualty Investigations. Responsible for the execution of ship and personnel casualty investigations. Examples included the investigation into what caused the 265,000 gallon crude oil spill from the Cypriot Tanker Athos I in November of 2004.
  • Flag State Inspections/Port State Control Examinations. Responsible for the regional execution of commercial vessel and facility inspections and examinations. Examples included the oversight of new tanker construction to non-traditional US standards, the determination and enforcement of Maritime Security Levels on ships and facilities, the identification and prosecution of criminal pollution cases, and the detention of ships with identified safety or security risks within port (or their expulsion from port).
  • Waterways Management. Responsible for managing the integrity of the Marine Transportation System, including that all Aids to Navigation (AToN’s) were in place and adequately administered, and that all Notice to Mariners and Marine Safety Zones were published and enforced (including ice season restrictions, Marine Event Permits, Marine Safety or Security Zones, Dredging Operations, etc).

Coast Guard Marine Safety Center

Chief of the Tank Vessel and Offshore Division
Salvage Engineering Response Team Leader

2000 to 2004

Led division that reviewed and approved plans and drawings for new ship construction and engineering design modifications for commercial tank vessels and OCS industry vessels. Ensured designs/plans were in accordance with international & national standards and regulatory oversight programs. Oversaw the salvage expertise provided to Coast Guard units responding to major shipping incidents. Examples and areas of focus included, but were not limited to:

  • Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Examined and approved the first prototype use of polyester mooring systems to determine their feasibility for Floating Production Units.
  • Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90). Verified structural arrangements and worst case oil outflow calculations for compliance with OPA 90.
  • Structural Fire Protection. Analyzed Structural Fire Protection tradeoffs between steel, aluminum, and composites within escape routes for offshore rigs/units.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Office New Orleans

Ship Inspector/Examiner
Ship Plan Reviewer
Accident Investigator
Trainer

1996 to 1998

Carried out Flag State Inspections and Port State Control Examinations on commercial ships to assess a vessel’s fitness for its intended route and service, and to verify compliance with regulatory standards; imposed operational restrictions or controls as necessary to maximize safety and security, and to minimize pollution threats. For international detentions, filed appropriate reports via International Maritime Organization (IMO) protocol. Assessments included evaluation of hull integrity (strength/watertight integrity), machinery/engineering systems, lifesaving systems, fire protection systems, navigation systems, stability characteristics, etc. Trained new Coast Guard Inspectors and Examiners on all processes. Reviewed and inspected technical modification proposals for regional US commercial ships in accordance with applicable standards. Reviews included detailed assessment of fire protection systems, lifesaving systems, egress capabilities, stability analysis, etc. Conducted ship and personnel casualty investigations to determine cause and evaluate the need for regulatory improvements, as well as potential responsible party liability.

Coast Guard District Staff, New Orleans

Staff Officer

1994 to 1996

Managed Coast Guard ship inspection and maritime casualty investigation activities throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Reviewed and analyzed Coast Guard positions on appeals, civil penalties, and pending vessel compliance policy. Oversaw Coast Guard Personnel safety training initiatives. Oversaw the implementation of the newly developed Coast Guard Streamlined Inspection Program (SIP) which utilized auditing and oversight methodologies over ship owner self-inspections. Studied emergency egress and lifesaving capabilities in combination with Search and Rescue capacities applicable to rescue efforts from high capacity passenger vessels on the Mississippi River.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Baltimore

Ship Inspector/Examiner
Accident Investigator
Suspension & Revocation Proceeding Presenter

1990 to 1994

Carried out Flag State Inspections and Port State Control Examinations on commercial ships to assess the vessel’s fitness for its intended route and service, and to verify compliance with regulatory standards and impose operational restrictions or controls as necessary to maximize safety and security and to minimize pollution threats. For international detentions, filed appropriate reports via IMO protocol. Assessments included evaluation of hull integrity (strength/watertight integrity), machinery/engineering systems, lifesaving systems, fire protection systems, navigation systems, stability characteristics, etc. Conducted ship and personnel casualty investigations to determine an incident’s cause and evaluate the need for regulatory or other standards of care improvements, as well as assess any potential responsible party liability. Investigated potential acts of negligence, misconduct, or violations of regulation or law, by professional mariners as outline in Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 4 and 5, and then prepared and presented government/Coast Guard cases within administrative Suspension and Revocation (S&R) Proceedings before an Administrative Law Judge.

Professional Credentials/USCG Credentials

  • ASME/AWS Code Welding Requirements Trained, 1996
  • Engineer-In-Training (PE Precursor), Virginia, 2001
  • FEMA National Incident Management System/Response Plan Certification, 2005
  • Incident Command System (ICS) 300-400 Certification, 1996-1997
  • ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Auditor/Lead Auditor Certification, 2008
  • NFPA 472-92, Hazardous Material Awareness & Operations Qualified (HAZWOPER), 2000
  • NFPA Shipyard Competent Person Trained, 1991, 1993
  • U.L. Advanced Boating Accident Investigation Trained, 1995
  • USCG Vessel Inspection and Examination Qualifications for the following vessel types:
    • Deep Draft (Hull), Deep Draft Dry-dock, Tank Ships, Foreign Freight ships, Foreign Tank ships, Barges (Tank and Deck), & Small Passenger Vessels (Subchapter T & Subchapter K), 1992-1994
  • USCG Affiliated Training Programs attended included:
    • Marine Inspector Course (1991), Chief Inspection Department Course (1994), USL Helo Egress Training (1994), Inspection of Wooden Boats (1990), Inspection and Repair of Fiber Reinforced Plastic Boats (1992), Investigation Department Course (1992)
  • USCG Marine Casualty Investigator Qualified, 1993
  • USCG Marine Safety & Environmental Protection Professional designation, 2001
  • USCG Merchant Mariner Credential Suspension & Revocation Officer Qualified, 1993
  • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), Boat GPS Forensics Course, 2018
  • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), Level I – Comprehensive Boating Accident Investigation Course, 2018
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Boating Safety Education Certificate, 2017

Education

Master of Science in Engineering - Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, University of Michigan, 2000

Master of Engineering - Manufacturing Engineering, University of Michigan, 2000

Bachelor of Science – Mathematics (Physics Minor), State University of New York College at Fredonia

Professional Memberships

Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME)

Publications/Presentations

  • “Combination of Factors, Assessing Cumulative Effects in a Maritime Tragedy” published in the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) Marine Technology, Fall October 2023
  • “MSC’s Salvage Engineering Response Team, A valuable Resource Tool for Marine Safety Field Units” published in the USCG’s Proceedings of the Marine Safety Council, Summer 2004 edition.
  • “Regulatory Complexities, The Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Industry,” published in the USCG’s Proceedings of the Marine Safety Council, Summer 2004 edition.
  • “A Marine Forensic Analysis of Fishing Vessel Lady Mary,” presented at the SNAME Maritime Convention, Houston, Texas, October 2014
  • “Regulatory Update & Workforce Planning for the Liquefied Gas Industry,” Panel Member, USCG Liquefied Gas Senior Executive Forum, Houston, Texas, December 2015. Presented at USCG’s Liquefied Gas Senior Executive Forum, Houston, TX, 2015.
  • Facilitated “Growing the Marine Highway” Presentations within the State University of New York’s Maritime College’s Marine Highway Conference, “America’s Blue Highway,” 2018.
  • “The Standards of Care for Captains, Masters, or Skippers,” Hosted Webinar for Robson Forensic, 2021.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Transportation Research Board (TRB), Peer Reviewer of TRB Special Report 342, “Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels,” Copyright 2022 by the National Academy of Sciences.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Transportation Research Board, Member of the Committee on U.S. Coast Guard Oversight of Recognized Organizations, resulting in TRB Special Report 343 “Strengthening U.S. Coast Guard Oversight and Support of Recognized Organizations, The Case of the Alternate Compliance Program,” Copyright 2022 by the National Academy of Sciences.

Other

  • Collegiate Assistant Swim Coach, 1987
  • High School Varsity Swim Coach, 1988-1989
  • NY State Department of Recreation Chief Lifeguard, 1987-1989
  • Certified NY State Competitive Swimming Official, 1989
  • Certified recreational SCUBA Diver, 1984
  • Avid swim enthusiast, pool and open water competition, 1981-present
  • Attended Sailing Camps, 1981, 1982
  • Recreational Boater, 1975-present

v. 02/23/24

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See All of Kyle's Published Content

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Parasailing Safety

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The Standard of Care for Captains, Masters, or Skippers

Thursday, March 04, 2021
2:00 - 3:00 pm
Featuring Kyle McAvoy
Video Webinar

The titles of Captain, Master, or Skipper are used to demarcate the person in charge aboard commercial or recreational vessels. These titles carry a responsibility to ensure for the safety of those…

Infection Control and the Cruise Industry

Thursday, May 28, 2020
2:00 - 3:00 pm
Featuring Tiffanie L. Bova, Hendrik J. Keijer, Kyle McAvoy
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This webinar will provide attorneys and insurance professionals with a frame of reference for evaluating the cruise industry’s response to Coronavirus. Tiffanie Haemer from our healthcare…