Honor the Member, Honor the Mariner, Honor the Memory: U.S. Coast Guard’s Master Marine Inspectors

Story by Cmdr. Zeita Merchant and Cmdr. Erin Williams

The Coast Guard is charged with the unique responsibility to ensure our Nation’s maritime safety, security and stewardship. Focused intently on that mission everyday are Coast Guard marine inspectors. Under the Coast Guard’s Maritime Prevention Program, marine inspectors execute this mission by ensuring that U.S. vessels, engaged in foreign and domestic commercial service, including fishing vessels, comply with U.S. laws and regulations. This also includes oversight of a robust Port State Control program in accordance with international treaty obligations to ensure that foreign vessels visiting U.S. waters are in compliance with international standards.

The legacy of today’s marine inspector began with the Steamboat Inspection Service, which was created by Congress in 1871 in response to a significant number of deaths on the high seas and along the coast and riverbanks. Originally, there were nine supervisory inspectors, each responsible for a specific geographic region, to inspect commercial steam vessels to safeguard lives and property at sea. There are now over 1000 marine inspectors serving all around the globe.

Since the time of the Steamboat Inspection Service, marine inspectors have assumed a tremendous amount of responsibility safeguarding the lives of the passengers and crews aboard the vessels they inspect. To accomplish this, all marine inspectors must be masters of their craft, thorough in their evaluation, skilled at collaborating, and clear in their communication.

In support of the Commandant’s commitment to excellence address, in January 2017 the Coast Guard created a distinctive certificate commemorating the achievements of advanced journeymen marine inspectors with over 12 years of marine inspector experience.

The program recognizes the most elite inspectors who demonstrated character, dedication and performance in one of the most technical fields in the Coast Guard and pass on their knowledge and expertise to future marine inspectors.  The Master Marine Inspector Certificate honors the longevity and expertise of those in this noble and challenging field whose character, dedication and performance clearly epitomize the spirit of the Steamboat Inspection Service. Since January 2017, the Coast Guard has awarded 27 master marine inspector certificates.

Recently, three Ninth District units recognized the following Coast Guard Marine Inspectors with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Master Marine Inspector Certificate: Mr. Jeff Carie, Marine Safety Unit Chicago; Chief Warrant Officer Todd Dudley, Marine Safety Unit Duluth; and Mr. Jim Condra, Marine Safety Detachment Sturgeon Bay.

Mr. Jeff Carie, the Ninth District’s first master marine inspector has served as a marine inspector for nearly 20 years. As a prior machinery technician, he served in several Coast Guard units as an engineering petty officer afloat and ashore. He advanced to chief warrant officer as a marine safety specialist engineer in 1998.

During his five-year tour at the Marine Safety Office St. Louis, Missouri, Carie attained numerous qualifications, designation as a senior marine inspector, and a permanent marine safety professional insignia. He also co-authored the Coast Guard’s Navigation and Inspection Circular 01-01, providing technical guidance for the inspection of amphibious vehicles. Carie reported to Marine Safety Office Chicago in June 2003, where he continued his specialty as a marine inspector and marine casualty investigator and retired from active duty service in 2008.

Today, Carie serves as a civilian marine inspector at Marine Safety Unit Chicago and is a nationally recognized technical expert within the Coast Guard marine inspection community. His experience and expertise have contributed to development and modifications of Coast Guard policy that have influenced how marine inspections are conducted across the country.

Enlisting in 1987, Chief Warrant Officer Todd Dudley first entered the marine safety profession in 1992 as a marine science technician.  He became a chief warrant officer as a marine safety specialist engineer in 2002 and dove into marine inspections at Marine Safety Office Hampton Roads where he earned his first inspections qualification.

Dudley holds qualifications as a hull inspector as well as diesel and steam machinery inspector.  He is also a barge and dry-dock inspector, foreign tank vessel examiner and foreign freight vessel examiner.  During his nine-year tenure at Marine Safety Unit Duluth, he facilitated the qualification of 60 apprentice marine inspectors from across the entire Coast Guard, and spearheaded revisions to the Coast Guard’s Streamlined Inspection Program for deep draft “lakers” operating on the Great Lakes.  His technical expertise was tested in 2015 during the investigation into a foreign vessel suspected of illegally discharging oil into Lake Superior.  His meticulous effort resulted in the U.S. Attorney assessing a $1 million fine to the company becoming the first ever successfully prosecuted environmental crimes case on the Great Lakes.  After 30 years of dedicated service, Dudley is retiring from the Coast Guard and will remain in the Duluth, Minnesota, area.

Mr. Jim Condra began his career as a marine inspector in June 1998 at Marine Safety Office San Diego.  Prior to that, he sailed aboard various Coast Guard cutters, earning a promotion chief warrant officer.  While on active duty, Condra was a marine inspector for 14 years and was last assigned to Marine Safety Detachment St. Paul before leaving active duty in 2012 to become a full-time civilian marine inspector at Marine Safety Detachment Sturgeon Bay. Condra served as a marine casualty investigator and a foreign vessel examiner, and is fully qualified to inspect the vast majority of vessels flying the U.S. flag.  He continues to pass along his extensive knowledge and experience by conducting advanced inspections training to junior marine inspectors throughout the U.S.

Since the inception of the Steamboat Inspection Service, marine inspectors have upheld the duty and responsibility to ensure commercial vessels and their crews are safe for operation on the seas. Carie, Dudley and Condra have dedicated their careers to honoring the mariner through the work they do. In doing so, they have honored the memory of the Steamboat Inspection Service.  By presenting these elite inspectors with the Master Marine Inspector Certificate, it is the Coast Guard’s opportunity to honor each member and their service to the maritime community.