The U.S. Coast Guard – the fifth branch of the military – has suffered a string of potentially avoidable and sometimes deadly accidents, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment damage, lawsuits from civilians and internal investigations that have questioned safety procedures.

G.W. Schulz examines the safety record of the Coast Guard dating back to 2000 and finds lapses in judgment and missed opportunities to strengthen safety standards to protect crew members and civilians.

Our investigation introduces us to a Coast Guard pilot whose helicopter ran into transmission wires that weren’t properly marked. We also talk with the family of a Coast Guard member who died as a result of a risky boating maneuver. And we speak to the former commandant of the Coast Guard about the service’s safety record.

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Sam Ward is a senior digital producer for Reveal, where he oversees the web team. He has years of experience producing creative digital media projects for Oregon Public Broadcasting, PBS, ITVS and the Smithsonian, and he has managed projects for funders such as the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education and Annenberg Media. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Ward is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.