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On Whistleblowing

By Jeff Hagopian

(Sent to the parent of a lost mariner aboard the SS El Faro)

Mr. Pusatere,

I am very sorry for the loss of your son as well as for the loss of all of the crew members of the “El Faro.” For quite some time I have debated whether or not to put my story on gcaptain forum. Reading your posts prompted me to do so.
You are correct in that ALL mariners should do the right thing. I did the right thing and was retaliated for doing so. Below is my story. It is disturbing and illustrates just how politically motivated the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Justice is to pander to these corporate entities and that the safety of the mariner is a mere afterthought. This should be very troubling and alarming to ALL MARINERS no matter what area of our industry they work in; however, I will leave that to you and other readers to form your own conclusions. Thank you for taking the time to read this story.
Again, I am very sorry for the loss of your son.

“The Whistleblower Retaliatory Termination of Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Alaska”

On March 16, 2015, I was made aware of safety violations that took place on my vessel, the “Noble Danny Adkins.” The vessel was a Liberian-flagged, self-propelled, dynamically positioned, mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) operated by Noble Drilling. Chief Mate Michael Gavis was aboard when the violations took place and it was he who made me aware of these safety violations. In compliance with Noble company policy, on March 18, 2015, and again on March 20, 2015, I reported these safety violations to Noble Drilling’s “Alternate Designated Person Ashore” (ADPA) Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka. ADPA Jedlicka was a member of Noble’s “Health, Safety & Environmental” (HSE) team.

I had been Captain of the “Noble Danny Adkins” for five years from March 2010 until March 31, 2015. On March 31, 2015, eleven days after I filed my report with ADPA Jedlicka, I was abruptly terminated from my Captain’s position at Noble Drilling. I received a phone call from Human Resource Manager, Priscilla Heistad, and my supervisor, Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins, who was the shore-based manager for my vessel. I was told “we have lost confidence in your ability to manage the vessel.” In my five year tenure as Captain I had five performance evaluations that were all very positive and complimentary. Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins stated that I was “an asset to Noble.” I had never been written-up, warned or had any sort of disciplinary action taken against me during my tenure of employment at Noble Drilling. The “Noble Danny Adkins” was considered one of the best vessels in Noble’s fleet and had an outstanding reputation for safety, efficiency, regulatory compliance and crew morale.

The safety violations I reported to ADPA Jedlicka were as follows:

  1. A false “red entry” in the logbook that was made regarding the S.O.L.A.S. requirement for the quarterly “launching and maneuvering” of the vessels four lifeboats. A logbook entry made on January 29, 2015, stated that all four lifeboats were “launched and maneuvered.” This event never happened. 3rd Mate Steven Haugland made the false entry and Captain Daniel Askins signed off on it both knowing the entry was false.
  2. Attempting to lie and not be forthright with U.S. Coast Guard Inspectors regarding the faulty and defective condition of the vessels fast rescue craft gravity davit during the annual U.S. Coast Guard “Certificate of Compliance” Inspection of Tuesday, February 10, 2015. Rather than disclose this faulty condition with the U.S. Coast Guard Inspectors, as is required by law, a decision was made between shore-based and vessel management to “let them broach the subject first.” This directive was contained in email correspondence between Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins and Captain Daniel Askins the night before and the morning of the February 10, 2015, U.S. Coast Guard Inspection.

Unbeknownst to me was that my report of safety violations to ADPA Jedlicka exposed a corporate cover-up that involved ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka himself, Noble Drilling’s VP of Compliance/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow, Captain Daniel Askins and, lastly, the person who terminated my employment – Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins. Particularly troubling is the maritime background and education of these individuals: James Sanislow is an attorney for Noble and he is also a 1989 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and John Hawkins is a 1997 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. At one time they each held a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited Tonnage Deck and Engineering License, respectively; Daniel Askins is a graduate of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy and holds an Unlimited Tonnage Master’s License and Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka is a twenty-seven year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.

My termination was retaliatory for “blowing the whistle” on these safety violations. Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins was previously the shore-based manager of the vessel “Noble Discoverer” in Alaska. On December 8, 2014, Noble Drilling pled guilty to eight felony counts related to safety and oil pollution violations that took place on the “Noble Discoverer” from 2010 to 2012 when John Hawkins was Drilling Superintendent. Noble paid $12.2 million in fines and was put on four years criminal probation. Regarding Noble Drilling’s illegal conduct, they engaged in the following: “knowingly presented false and fictitious records to the USCG”; “knowingly and willfully failed to notify the USCG of hazardous conditions aboard the Noble Discoverer”; “knowingly made false entries in its oil record book”; “Noble knowingly engaged in the below conduct with the intent to avoid compliance with the law and avoid detection by the U.S. Coast Guard.” Additionally, “The Coast Guard discovered numerous violations, including but not limited to, major non-conformities with the safety management system….” The plea agreement can be viewed at www.whistleblowers.org 1; case# 3:2014-cr-00114-RRB, United States of America vs. Noble Drilling. Obviously, it would not look favorable on Noble Drilling that within two months of signing their plea agreement and commencing four years probation that their Chief Compliance Officer, DPA/ADPA, Drilling Superintendent and one of their Captains were all conspiring to lie and not be forthright with U.S. Coast Guard Inspectors regarding safety/lifesaving equipment as well as the falsification of logbook entries.

I filed a lawsuit against Noble Drilling under the “Seaman’s Protection Act” in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas – Galveston Division: case # 3:2016-cv-00099. The case settled out of Court in the February/March 2017.

In March 2016 I contacted the U.S. Coast Guard’s 8th District in New Orleans, LA and informed them of my whistleblower retaliation/termination. USCG “Proceedings” was just published and it was dedicated to “safety management systems.” When a five-year Captain is fired within days of making a safety report to their DPA/ADPA it is indicative of a dysfunctional “safety management system” and a non-existent safety “culture.” Considering Noble was already a convicted felon on probation, informing the Coast Guard seemed appropriate. The Coast Guard came up with excuses as to why they could not and would not get involved and they did nothing. It was later told to me from a member of the Coast Guard’s 8th District that this situation with Noble Drilling was too “politically sensitive” and that they were given an order to “stand down.” Politics, cronyism and pandering to corporations such as Noble Drilling has no place when it comes to the safety of vessel personnel. Since when is the safety of vessel personnel “politically sensitive?” If any members of the Senior Leadership of U.S. Coast Guard are reading this perhaps they can provide an answer to this question.

On May 1, 2017, I contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska where Noble was on probation. My termination resulted from reporting illegal and felonious safety violations that were almost identical to that of the “Noble Discoverer” so I felt it appropriate to contact U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder and his Office. Especially, given the fact that U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and served twenty-four years in the U.S. Coast Guard. The Noble case was also handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea T. Steward and Deputy Criminal Chief Steven M. Skrocki. Given U.S. Attorney Schroder’s background with the Coast Guard and Noble’s recent criminal history one would think he and his Office would have looked at this situation from a very critical perspective. The U.S. Attorney’s Office looked the other way and did nothing. They gave Noble a “free pass.” Regarding the safety violations I reported, Noble falsely stated to the Court that the crew “cut corners” on a lifeboat drill. They did not “cut corners.” They made a false entry of an event that never happened. Regarding lying and not being forthright with the Coast Guard inspectors, Noble falsely stated to the Court that they “investigated” this but there was “nothing to substantiate” this allegation. ADPA Jedlicka attempted to “investigate” this; however, Chief Mate Michael Gavis refused to cooperate and, as a result, ADPA Jedlicka abruptly ended his “investigation.” This was ADPA Jedlicka’s testimony under oath. He also testified under oath that the logbook entry was false. I provided a plethora of evidence and documentation to substantiate my claims including transcripts of sworn deposition testimony; however, it didn’t matter. Noble was granted early termination of probation and as of March 1, 2018, Noble’s probation ended. “On paper,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office opposed Noble’s request for early termination of probation but all they did was “go through the motions.” They used none of the evidence I provided. Attorney’s James Sanislow, John Cox and Herbert Ray comprised Noble’s defense counsel vs. the United States. Mr. Sanislow was also involved in my litigation. James Sanislow knew the truth yet Noble knowingly, willingly and maliciously lied and committed perjury in numerous documents and declarations submitted to the U.S. District Court in Alaska. In March/April 2018, besides what I had already provided the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I provided additional evidence to U.S. Attorney Schroder’s Office that Noble lied to the Court. It didn’t matter to U.S. Attorney Schroder and his Office. They still looked the other way and did nothing. They even agreed with Noble’s assertion that I was not a whistleblower.

My reason and purpose for telling this story is that I want to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t happen again to anyone who is trying to keep their crew and vessel safe. Companies such as Noble Drilling that operate in such a disingenuous and unethical are unsafe and dangerous and they will eventually get people seriously injured or killed. As Captains and mariners we, predominantly, rely on the Coast Guard to ensure that these type of companies operate legally and with the mariners safety paramount. As Captains, it is our responsibility to ensure that our crew and vessels are safe. The Coast Guard is supposed to support Captain’s and mariners when it comes to safety. However, in my opinion, when it comes to supporting or “honoring the mariner,” the U.S. Coast Guard has failed the mariner. My retaliatory termination is an example of this. Captains are not supposed to be fired within days after reporting safety violations to a DPA/ADPA. How does the Coast Guard and the U.S. Attorney’s Office look the other way and do nothing? Noble Drilling was a convicted felon on probation and within two months of commencing probation they were, again, involved in illegal and felonious activity almost identical to what landed them on probation in the first place. How does the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Coast Guard ignore this? A U.S. Attorney, no less, who graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and spent 24 years in the Coast Guard. This inaction by U.S. Attorney Schroder is incomprehensible and, quite frankly, disgraceful as he should know better. U.S. Attorney Schroder had the opportunity to set the precedent that illegal, unsafe and felonious conduct will not be tolerated. Instead, the opposite precedent was set and now, more than ever, these companies will now feel empowered to do whatever they want because they know there will be no accountability, responsibility or consequences for their illegal and unethical conduct. James Sanislow is Chairman of the “Ethics & Compliance” Committee of the Int’l Association of Drilling Contractors, www.iadc.org. This will trickle down. U.S. Attorney Schroder and his Office gave these companies a victory and, for the mariner, they gave a knife to the back. Captain’s and vessel crew will now think twice before they voice safety concerns out of fear of retaliation as they know there is no one to protect them.

This has to stop and it has to stop now. The disingenuous management “culture” of companies such as Noble Drilling contributes greatly to such tragedies as “El Faro” or “Deepwater Horizon” because it creates an environment of dangerous, unsafe and unethical leadership. These companies know the Coast Guard and, now, the U.S. Attorney(s) won’t hold them accountable for their disingenuous and illegal conduct. This creates “Captain’s” who are willing to put their crew and vessels at risk out of fear or to look good in the eyes of the company and management. Case in point: The false logbook entry made by the temporary 3rd Mate and signed off by Captain. They both knew those lifeboats were not “launched and maneuvered” and that the logbook entry was false. However, the 3rd Mate was a temporary employee hoping to get hired on as a full-time Noble employee so he was willing to do whatever it took. It is unconscionable that a “Captain” and another deck officer would knowingly, willingly sign off on a false logbook entry as it pertains to the maintenance of safety and lifesaving equipment, especially, the vessels lifeboats.

In Bresnahan Hall, on the campus of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, there is a plaque which states the following: “You can have a Merchant Marine with first class men even if they sail second-class ships. But second class men can’t be trusted on the finest ships afloat.” These words are as truthful and relevant today as they were over 80 years ago.

If the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Justice and other regulatory and/or law enforcement agencies continue to play politics and pander to corporate entities such as Noble Drilling and not hold them accountable for their conduct then there will continue to be tragic and potentially avoidable, disasters at sea. When there is no accountability, responsibility or consequences for dangerous, unsafe and illegal, unethical behavior history is destined to repeat itself.

On October 4, 2018, I mailed a letter to U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder. I attempted to put a copy of this letter with this post but the file was too large. I copied a number of other individuals including the Commandant and Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. I also mailed a copy of this letter to each Congressional member of the “Subcommittee on Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation.” To date, I have received no response from U.S. Attorney Schroder or anyone else for that matter. I

I stand by everything I have written here as truthful and factual and I have the evidence to support it.

Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian
Massachusetts Maritime Academy – Class of 1988
Instructor – U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer’s School (SWOS) – Newport, RI
Cell: 978-764-3908
Email: jbhagop@yahoo.com

Regulatory Neglect & Its Consequences: An Open Letter

Below is a copy of an “open letter” that I sent via email on November 12, 2019. Among the recipients are several members of the the U.S. Coast Guard including Admiral Paul Thomas, Admiral John Nadeau, Admiral Richard Timme, Captain Joshua Reynolds and Captain Scott Kelly. Also included is retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder and his Office as well as individuals from the Liberian Registry. I also included Noble Drilling’s outside legal counsel: John Cox and Herbert Ray. In addition, I included the two court appointed “independent” and “3rd party auditors” Jay Webster and Kim Estes. The content of this “open letter” and the content of the attached videos are self-explanatory.

There are two video links attached with this post. Click on the highlighted/underlined link and then a “vimeo” link will pop up. Click on the vimeo link and the video will be able to play. To date, I have received no response from any of the individuals addressed or copied on this email.

To: bryan.schroder@usdoj.gov, “Steward, Aunnie (USAAK)” <Aunnie.Steward@usdoj.gov>, “Skrocki, Steven (USAAK)” <Steven.Skrocki@usdoj.gov>, Joshua Reynolds <joshua.d.reynolds@uscg.mil>, paul.f.thomas@uscg.mil, Alphard Romero <AROMERO@liscr.com>, dmuir@liscr.com, dpascoe@liscr.com, tkeegan@liscr.com, safety@liscr.com, david.pereira@sabinesurveyors.com, “Mr. Jay Webster” <jay.webster@sabinesurveyors.com>, kim@estesgroupllc.com, John.Cox@jcoxlawfirm.com, hray@schwabe.com 

Cc: “Mr. Adam Carron – Special Agent” <adam.j.carron@uscg.mil>, John Cashman <John.Cashman@usdoj.gov>, Kenneth Nelson <kenneth.nelson3@usdoj.gov>, CWO Todd Michael <Todd.M.Michael@uscg.mil>, Brian Khey <Brian.R.Khey@uscg.mil>, scott.j.kelly@uscg.mil, john.cashman@uscg.mil, john.nadeau@uscg.mil, john.p.nadeau@uscg.mil, Kevin Kohlmann <kevin.kohlmann@dot.gov>, richard.v.timme@uscg.mil, HQS-DG-NMCProceedings@uscg.mil, HQS-DG-NMCProceedingsDist@uscg.mil

This “open letter” is directed to the multiple individuals addressed (not “Cc’d”). In 2016 and 2017, during various times, I came forward to the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska and the Liberian Flag-State. Specifically, I came forward and provided evidence of the continued unsafe, dangerous and reckless conduct of convicted felon Noble Drilling. However, this evidence was ignored and/or withheld and, as a result, Noble Drilling and their management were not held accountable or responsible for their illegal behavior. Had this evidence been used, investigated and action taken the situation contained in the attached video(s) may very well have been avoided. 

The drillship “Noble Don Taylor,”IMO #9618915, had a “drop” of a length of riser that fell onto their rig floor. This joint of riser was approximately 75 feet long and weighed approximately 35,000 pounds. This drop nearly killed a crew member who, literally, ran for his life and got out of harms way. Here is a video of the incident, which speaks for itself. Also, attached is the Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) report. This incident occurred in January 2019 approximately ten months after Noble Drilling was granted “early” termination of criminal probation from case # 3:2014-cr-00114-RRB. In May 2017, I came forward and provided evidence of Noble Drilling’s continued illegal, unsafe and dangerous behavior. The evidence I provided was evidence from my whistleblower/retaliatory termination as a Captain from Noble Drilling and my subsequent litigation against them. However, despite all the evidence I provided, none of you did anything. To be clear, it is not what you did but the gross negligence in what you didn’t do that has enabled the continued reckless, dangerous and non-existent “safety culture” that is Noble Drilling and the result of which is contained in the video(s). Miraculously, the crew member in the video was not killed or hurt………. but what if he had been? Safety at sea is not about luck. It is about prevention and mitigating risk and instilling a positive safety culture that consists of both vessel management and shore-based management. Safety at sea also relies on regulatory authorities and law enforcement authorities doing their jobs and holding those corporations and their management accountable who continually operate dangerously and without any regard for safety or the law. 

Noble Drilling’s shore based manager of the drillship “Noble Don Taylor” is/was Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins. This is the same John Hawkins who was previously the shore-based manager of the vessel “Noble Discoverer” which, in December 2014, was the vessel at the epicenter of Noble Drilling pleading guilty to eight felony charges related to safety and oil pollution violations as well as major non-conformities with their safety management system, case # 3:2014-cr-00114-RRB. This is also the same John Hawkins who, in retaliation, terminated my employment as Captain of the vessel “Noble Danny Adkins” on March 31, 2015, eleven days after I reported illegal and felonious safety violations to Noble Drilling’s “Alternate Designated Person Ashore” (ADPA), Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka. As I would come to learn, the illegal and felonious safety violations I reported aboard the “Noble Danny Adkins” took place with the full knowledge and approval of Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins, Captain Daniel Askins, ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka himself as well as other senior management of Noble Drilling including VP/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow. U.S. Attorney Schroder, you and your Office are well acquainted with James Sanislow as he was an attorney of record for Noble Drilling in their litigation with the United States. These illegal safety violations included false logbook entries as it pertained to lifesaving equipment and the directive that was agreed upon between shore-based and vessel based management to deceive and not be forthright and honest with U.S. Coast Guard Inspectors. One could argue that ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka, Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins, Captain Daniel Askins and, indirectly James Sanislow, conspired and obstructed justice when they made this decision. For the record, this directive of deceit with the U.S. Coast Guard was contained in writing (in an email) between John Hawkins and Daniel Askins the night before and the morning of the U.S. Coast Guard Inspection. I provided you and your Office and copy of this. Not exactly the behavior one would expect from a convicted felon who just commenced their term of probation is it, Mr. Schroder? U.S. Attorney Schroder, you are a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and were a former Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for twenty-four years. I would think that you, of all people, would find this conduct appalling……especially, considering that Noble Drilling had just commenced probation. Noble Drilling and their lawyers (John Cox, Herbert Ray & James Sanislow) knowingly, willingly and maliciously lied to you and the Court but that didn’t matter. Despite all of this evidence that I provided, Noble Drilling was still given a free pass by all of you. The U.S. Coast Guard’s 8th District came up with excuses as to why they couldn’t and wouldn’t get involved. Eventually, I was told that the situation I reported regarding Noble Drilling was too “politically sensitive” and that they were given an order to “stand down.” Evidently, in the eyes of the U.S. Coast Guard, “political sensitivity” is more important than keeping mariners safe from dangerous and irresponsible corporate management cultures such as Noble Drilling. Clearly, there is/was a continued pattern of illegal and unsafe behavior as it pertains to the “management” of Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins and Noble Drilling management as a whole. Even after commencing probation there was no change to the behavior of John Hawkins or Noble Drilling management. Given Mr. Hawkins’ tenure of employment of over two decades with Noble Drilling and the continued lengths that senior management will go to in an effort to protect him, it is quite clear that his conduct and behavior is approved, condoned and encouraged by Noble Drilling’s senior management. Not even one year after Noble Drilling was granted “early” termination of probation, a vessel managed by Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins has a “drop” incident that nearly kills a crew member. The fact that this incident occurred on a vessel “managed” by John Hawkins is not a coincidence. Given the history of John Hawkins and Noble Drilling this doesn’t come as a surprise or a shock. This is the culture of Noble Drilling; however, this irresponsible and dangerous culture has been enabled and, thus, allowed to continue because none of you, i.e. the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Justice and the Liberian Flag State, held them accountable or responsible for their conduct. The end result of this lack of accountability and consequences is contained in the video(s). 

It is my understanding that John Hawkins is now employed as a “consultant” at Pacific Drilling. Daniel Askins is employed as a “marine technical manager” at Pacific Drilling. The CEO of Pacific Drilling is Bernie Wolford. Prior to joining Pacific Drilling, Bernie Wolford was the President/VP of Operations for Noble Drilling. Several of you on this email know Mr. Wolford as it was his signature as the Noble Drilling corporate representative on the December 8, 2014 plea agreement with the Department of Justice. Clearly, the dysfunctional and dangerous safety culture of Noble Drilling and the “management” of John Hawkins was acceptable to Mr. Wolford as John Hawkins remained employed at Noble Drilling for the remainder of Mr. Wolford’s tenure there. Presently, John Hawkins and Dan Askins are now in his employ. What does that say about the safety culture of Pacific Drilling? Most would agree that the culture of any organization starts at the top.

In conclusion, I can’t help but think that if any of the law enforcement or regulatory authorities took action after I made you aware of Noble Drillings conduct then, perhaps, the situation in the video could have been avoided. It is very fortunate that the crew member in that video was not killed or injured. In the hypothetical, what if that crew member were not so lucky? What if he was killed or seriously injured? How would all of you explain your negligent conduct? You were all made aware, with hard evidence, that Noble Drilling was still operating dangerously even after commencing probation yet you all did nothing. I would suggest you think about how you would explain your grossly negligent and irresponsible conduct to the family and loved ones of that crew member and, no doubt, their attorneys. They will want answers as to how the regulatory and law enforcement agencies that are entrusted to regulate and make the industry safe completely failed. It is very clear as to what happened here and, quite frankly and in my opinion, all of you should be ashamed of yourselves for looking the other way and doing nothing. Perhaps this video will give pause to think twice the next time a back-room deal is made with a convicted felon or to play politics or pander to a corporate entity as opposed to prioritizing the safety of the mariner. Had that crew member been killed or seriously injured you would all, most certainly, have blood on your hands.

Thank you for taking the time to read and view this post. As always, if there are any questions or comments regarding the content of this post please feel free to contact me via phone or email.

Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian

Email: jbhagop@yahoo.com

Cell: 978-764-3908

Lack of Law Enforcement & The Whistleblower

In my previous post I illustrated the gross negligence and indifference of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry as it pertained to the illegal and dangerous conduct of Noble Drilling which I reported to them. 

The epitome of this knowing and willful cover-up was when I notified the U.S. Department of Justice. Specifically, I notified the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska. This was the U.S. Attorney’s Office that had prosecuted Noble Drilling as it pertained to their eight felony convictions that took place on the vessel “Noble Discoverer” from 2010 to 2012. During this timeframe of illegal activity, the shore-based manager of the “Noble Discoverer” was Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins. The case # was 3:2014-cr-00114-RRB, the United States of America vs. Noble Drilling. This is also where Noble Drillings probation officer was located. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska is Mr. Bryan Schroder. He is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and served as an Officer for twenty-four years before retiring as a Captain from the U.S. Coast Guard. 

On May 1, 2017, I emailed the U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, Bryan Schroder, as well as a number of other individuals who had been involved in the initial prosecution of Noble Drilling. I notified them that Noble Drilling had violated the terms and conditions of their probation and plea agreement. Approximately two weeks after sending the email I received a phone call from a Special Agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). The CGIS requested I send the evidence I had. I sent the CGIS the same identical evidence I had given to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry. This evidence included emails, internal documents, work permits, job safety analysis documents and full deposition transcripts from my “Seaman’s Protection Act” litigation against Noble Drilling. 

I never spoke with or met with any of the previously mentioned U.S. Attorney’s from the District if Alaska. On October 27, 2017 I met with DOJ Attorneys Ken Nelson and John Cashman. They were both involved in the initial prosecution and plea agreement against Noble Drilling. We met in Providence, RI.

 Several months passed since that October meeting and in early March 2018 when I followed up with the CGIS agent I had been communicating with he informed me Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation. I was stunned. Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation as of March 1, 2018. In my subsequent contact with the previously mentioned Ken Nelson and John Cashman, (which was in early March 2018 and after Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation), they told me they found me very credible and truthful. How could a convicted felon who was reoffending within two months of commencing probation with the same shore-based manager, and committing nearly identical illegal and felonious offenses get away with such behavior and be granted early termination of probation?

I read several of the Court documents that contained Noble’s petitions to the Court for early termination of probation. These included sworn affidavits signed by the Court Appointed “3rd Party Auditor” and “Independent Auditor.” I will elaborate on the auditors further on in this paragraph. Another sworn affidavit was signed by Noble Drilling’s employee services directory, Priscilla Heistad. At the time of my termination she was Noble Drillings Human Resources Manager and she was involved in my litigation against Noble Drilling. Priscilla Heistad knowingly, willingly lied in her sworn affidavit. For the record, Priscilla Heistad is a licensed attorney in the State of Texas. Noble Drilling and their attorneys (James Sanislow, John Cox and Herbert Ray) also knowingly, willingly and maliciously lied to the Court on multiple occasions in their Court filings and petitions. In particular, they lied about the events leading up to and surrounding my termination. Upon learning of Noble being granted early termination of probation I immediately tried contacting U.S. Attorney Schroder and his Office as I thought it was important that they be aware that Noble Drilling lied in Court. They never returned any of my phone calls. I sent several emails with additional documentation and evidence. I offered to travel to Alaska so as to meet with with Mr. Schroder and his prosecutors but that request was denied. I even sent a letter and a large 3-ring binder with evidence and documentation directly to the Judge who presided over the case, Judge Ralph R. Beistline. I never received a response from the Judge. In April 2018 I received an email/letter from U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder and Asst. U.S. Attorney Andrea “Aunnie” Steward. In this email/letter they offered to “seal” the documents in the Noble case. I declined this offer as all that would do was conceal Noble Drillings illegal and unethical conduct as it pertained to their false Court filings. I had done nothing wrong and I had told the truth. Why would I need or want the documents “sealed.” I requested that they file perjury charges against Noble Drilling. That never happened. In their letter, they also stated that the Judge based his decisions on the affidavits of Noble Drillings “court appointed auditor” and “independent auditor.” As a condition of their plea agreement, these two “auditors” were tasked with monitoring Noble Drillings progress while on probation. The Court Appointed Independent Auditor was Kim Estes and the Court Appointed 3rd Party Auditor was Jay Webster of Sabine Surveyors. To the best of my knowledge Kim Estes does not have an active USCG License and has not been to sea in many, many years. It appears for quite some time he has been pursing an acting career. I find it very odd that of all of the highly skilled, highly qualified maritime consultants available that Noble Drilling and their legal counsel would select Kim Estes. Kim Estes had a clear conflict of interest in this case as he had provided “consulting” services in the form of “coaching and ethical behavior” to the law firm of Keesal, Young and Logan. (This is directly from Mr. Estes website, www.estesgroupllc.com). Not coincidentally, that is the same law firm that Attorneys John Cox and Herbert Ray were employed by when they first began representing Noble Drilling. In fact, their signatures are on the December 8, 2014 plea agreement as attorney’s for Keesal, Young and Logan representing the defendant, Noble Drilling. The Court had to approve of these auditors. One would think that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. District Court in Alaska would recognize this very clear conflict of interest between Kim Estes and the defense counsel. However, that would not be the case. At the time of Noble’s granting of early termination of probation, John Cox and Herbert Ray were no longer with the law firm of Keesal, Young and Logan. James Sanislow, the other attorney, is a Noble Drilling employee. He is their VP/Chief Compliance Officer.

 After reading the sworn affidavits of Kim Estes and Jay Webster I tried emailing them and calling them on several occasions. In the email to them I provided all the evidence to prove that Noble Drilling was lying. I never received any response via email or phone from Kim Estes or Jay Webster. I have come to learn that that is the consistent behavior of those confronted with their dishonest and unethical behavior. It also became very clear to me that Kim Estes and Jay Webster were not interested in the truth and that they were bought and paid for by Noble Drilling. Personally, for alleged former mariners such as Kim Estes and Jay Webster to “sell out” the way they did is beyond disgraceful. As for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it was very clear that the evidence I provided was suppressed, withheld and ignored. In my opinion, there was blatant collusion between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska and Noble Drilling. This collusion was all in an effort to aid and abet Noble Drilling to be granted early termination. The evidence I provided was an inconvenient truth to whatever back room deal that U.S. Attorney Schroder and his Office made with Noble Drilling which is why, in my opinion, it was withheld and ignored. 

One would think that a U.S. Attorney’s Office led by a former Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard and a Federal Judge would be livid that an eight-time convicted felon who just entered into a plea agreement was violating their probation within sixty days……and with the same shore-based manager, John Hawkins, leading the way. The fact that the events surrounding my termination is indicative of a dysfunctional and dangerous corporate culture that does not value safety is deeply troubling. One would also think that the events surrounding my termination and the cover up of illegal activity involved Noble Drillings own James Sanislow would be very troubling to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Court. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Court, in tandem with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry, gave Noble Drilling a free pass. I believe the fact that Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation validates this.

 I was always under the impression that when one is on criminal probation they are so supposed to be following the law and staying out of trouble. Evidently, the rules of law don’t apply to Noble Drilling. Perhaps, they knew all along that the Department of Justice, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry would just look the other way and do nothing and would not hold them accountable or responsible for their behavior. How else can one explain their blatant hubris and arrogance? In Court documents, the pinnacle of the collusion between Noble Drilling and the U.S. Attorney’s Office was when Noble Drilling stated that the U.S. Attorney’s Office now agreed with them that I was not a whistleblower!

The end result of the impotence and inaction by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Coast Guard is to the detriment of the safety of the mariner. These entities are supposed to be looking out for the safety of the mariner because, quite frankly, management cultures such as Noble Drilling have demonstrated that they are irresponsible, unethical and operate illegally on a consistent basis. Again, this is to the detriment of the safety of the mariner. When Captain’s or any other crew member are fired within days of reporting safety violations or hazards and law enforcement and regulatory agencies do nothing but protect and enable this type of management who is looking out for the mariner? 

My next post will illustrate the end result of what happens when law enforcement and regulatory agencies such as the Department of Justice and U.S. Coast Guard negligently and irresponsibly look the other way and enable such dysfunctional corporate management cultures such as Noble Drilling.

As always, if any of you have any questions or comments regarding the content of this post please feel free to call me or email me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. 

Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian

Cell: 978-764-3908

Email: jbhagop@yahoo.com


On Whistleblowing (Part II)

Written by Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian

This article is a follow-up to the original blog post titled “On Whistleblowing.” In this first article I outlined and detailed the events that led to my whistleblower/retaliatory termination. 

My termination occurred eleven days after I reported two illegal and felonious safety violations that took place on my former vessel, the “Noble Danny Adkins.” Specifically, “red” entries in the logbook falsely stating that on January 29, 2015 all four lifeboats were “launched and maneuvered” (this event never happened) and the collective directive and agreement between Noble Drilling shore based management and the vessel management i.e. the vessel Captain, Daniel Askins, to lie and not be forthright with U.S. Coast Guard Inspectors during the February 10, 2015 U.S. Coast Guard Inspection as it pertained to the faulty and defective condition of the vessels fast rescue craft (FRC) gravity davit.



I made my safety report both orally and in writing (via email) to Noble Drilling’s “Alternate Designated Person Ashore” (ADPA) Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka. Unbeknownst to me at the time I filed my safety report was that ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka himself, among several others in shore based management, was a knowing, willing participant in this illegal and felonious conduct. Hence, eleven days later I was terminated. 

The members of shore-based management included ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka, Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins and VP/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow. In addition, former Operations Manager Greg Broussard and the Human Resources Manager at the time, Ms. Priscilla Heistad, also were aware of this. For the record, Ms. Heistad is also a licensed attorney in the State of Texas. 

This next article will focus the conflicts of interest that exist between the Marine Inspections division of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Flag State(s) and the corporate management of companies such as Noble Drilling. This is nothing new and has been going on for years. The result has created a culture of enablement as the U.S. Coast Guard refuses to hold dysfunctional, irresponsible and outright dangerous corporate management cultures, such as Noble Drilling, accountable and responsible for their behavior that endangers their vessel personnel.

As mariners, we are supposed to be able to rely on the U.S. Coast Guard to support the mariner when it comes to enforcement of regulations for safety at sea. The U.S. Coast Guard is supposed to hold corporate management accountable when they operate illegally and endanger the safety of their vessel personnel. In addition, they are also supposed to hold licensed officers accountable should they conduct themselves in an illegal or disingenuous manner that threatens the safety of their crews. 

The “prevention” page on the USCG’s website lists one of its missions as to “Honor The Mariner.” In my opinion, this is a complete farce as the U.S. Coast Guard has done the opposite and actually made our industry more dangerous. When there are no consequences for ones actions there is no incentive to change. In my opinion, the U.S. Coast Guard has hung the mariner out to dry. I realize that this is a very strong statement; however, I base this on my own personal experiences related to my termination. This is outlined in the following paragraphs:

In March 2016, I contacted a member of the “prevention” department of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 8th District in New Orleans, LA. I had a previous rapport with this individual so I sought him out and we spoke. The Spring 2016 edition of the U.S. Coast Guard’s “PROCEEDINGS” Magazine was just published. This magazine is the the U.S. Coast Guards “Journal of Safety & Security at Sea.” This edition of “PROCEEDINGS” was dedicated to “Safety Management Systems.” Given the fact that my termination resulted eleven days after making a report to Noble Drilling’s “Alternate Designated Person Ashore” (the Designated Person/Alternate Designated Person are a critical component and requirement of safety management systems) contacting the U.S. Coast Guard and reporting what had happened seemed appropriate; especially, where the U.S. Coast Guard had used “PROCEEDINGS” to emphasize the importance of safety management systems.

I explained how Noble Drilling retaliated and terminated me and the details of what had happened. They did nothing. They came up with excuses as to why they could not and would not investigate it and would not get involved. They also said that since the vessel had been “stacked” i.e. “laid up” and was no longer in service that they could not do an investigation into this matter. The fact that the vessel was “stacked” or “laid up” is completely irrelevant; however, this was the excuse the U.S. Coast Guard used.

I had all of the evidence to validate what had happened but they were not interested and were not going to get involved. Again, in October 2016, I followed up again with the U.S. Coast Guard’s 8th District. This time I was put in contact with the Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection (OCMI) who was Captain Joshua Reynolds. Captain Reynolds had just given a presentation to the “Center for Offshore Safety” at their annual forum which took place in late September 2016.

Ironically, the topic of Mr. Reynolds presentation was the “changing of safety culture” in the offshore industry. In his opening remarks, Captain Reynolds states the following: “I am all in; the Coast Guard is all in. We have to get beyond compliance to a Safety Culture. The Coast Guard will do its part.” In attendance was U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul F. Thomas – at the time he was the U.S. Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy. Admiral Thomas is quoted in the Spring 2016 “PROCEEDINGS” as stating the following: “There is nothing more dangerous than the false sense of security that comes with a safety management system that exists on paper only.” However, when I spoke directly with Mr. Reynolds approximately two weeks after he gave his presentation he couldn’t backtrack and make excuses fast enough as to why the U.S. Coast Guard could not and would not get involved.

This incident with Noble Drilling was a textbook example of the “culture” that Mr. Reynolds was addressing. When a five-year Captain is terminated/retaliated upon eleven days after making a safety report to a DPA/ADPA that is clear evidence of a non-existent and completely dysfunctional safety culture or as Admiral Thomas is quoted, “……a safety management system that exists on paper only.” Noble Drillings ISM/DPA reporting procedures clearly state that all safety violations must be reported and these procedures are also very specific about non-retaliation for the reporting of safety issues. What the U.S. Coast Guard fails to comprehend is the trickle down effect this has on other crew members. When other crew members see a five-year Captain of one of the best vessels in the company fleet terminated within days of making a safety report what type of message does that send? It sends the message that if you speak up about safety you will be fired. This is a very elementary concept that the U.S. Coast Guard cannot seem to grasp. The dysfunctional and warped culture of Noble Drilling is precisely the culture that Mr. Reynolds and, allegedly, the U.S. Coast Guard is “all in” about trying to change. This was an ideal opportunity for Mr. Reynolds and the U.S. Coast Guard to actually take action and do something to promote a safety culture rather than just talk about it. Unfortunately, they chose the latter.

At the time of my termination, Noble Drilling was already a convicted felon on probation for safety and oil pollution violations as well as having “major non-conformities with its safety management system.” On December 8, 2014, Noble Drilling pled guilty to eight felony counts related to safety and oil pollution violations which occurred on the vessel “Noble Discoverer.”The events surrounding the illegal safety violations I reported occurred merely two months after the signing of the plea agreement and the commencement of probation. I will elaborate on Noble’s felony convictions and my communications/interactions with the Department of Justice in the next post.

Clearly, this demonstrates a pattern of illegal, disingenuous and unethical conduct on the part of Noble Drilling management. However, that didn’t matter to Mr. Reynolds and the U.S. Coast Guard. They just kept looking the other way and did nothing. I followed up with Mr. Reynolds, again, in mid-February 2017. In an email, I asked him point blank if he and the U.S. Coast Guard were going to do something regarding Noble Drilling or keep looking the other way and doing nothing. Mr. Reyolds and the U.S. Coast Guard, again, chose the latter. 

The epitome of the hypocrisy of Mr. Reynolds and the U.S. Coast Guard was at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, TX on June 28, 2017. Mr. Reynolds is quoted as saying the following: “I’m a believer in safety management systems……The challenge is to get buy-in at all levels; they should be part of a safety culture. If there’s no safety culture, a safety management system becomes shelf ware generated by a corporate to satisfy a regulation….There are three steps to a good safety management system: 1. Say what you do; 2. Do what you say and; 3 Prove it”  Mr. Reynolds is absolutely correct and I would suggest that Mr. Reynolds and the U.S. Coast Guard should heed those words themselves……..Mr. Reynolds and the U.S. Coast Guard have the words down but their words aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

They know how to say the right things and they can deliver a presentation but it is all smoke and mirrors and nothing but a “dog and pony show.” When it comes to actually taking action and following through with their words they do nothing. What I, personally, find repugnant is that Mr. Reynolds had the audacity to “double down” and make these statements four months after I called him and the U.S. Coast Guard out for looking the other way and doing nothing (see attached email). The U.S. Coast Guard has the power and authority to enforce ISM/safety management system compliance……..but they refuse to do it. Unfortunately, this is the consistent hypocrisy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

In an effort to appease me, Mr. Reynolds put me in contact with U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Todd Michael who was based out of U.S. Coast Guard sector Corpus Christi, TX. One would think that given the egregious nature of Noble Drillings conduct and how allegedly “passionate” Mr. Reynold is about safety management systems that he would want to speak and meet with me directly. This would not be the case.

This further demonstrates the hypocrisy of Mr. Reynolds and that of the U.S. Coast Guard. For the record, I met with U.S. Coast Guard CWO Todd Michael on March 30, 2017, in Houston, TX. I provided him hard copies and electronic copies of all of the evidence I had. In my last communication with CWO Michael he told me had forwarded the evidence up his chain of command. Unfortunately, from there it evaporated and I have heard nothing ever since from the U.S. Coast Guard. In 2017, in a phone conversation with a member of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 8th District, I was told that my situation with Noble Drilling was too “politically sensitive” and that they were given an order to “stand down” from getting involved. Since when does “political sensitivity” have anything to do with the safety of mariners? I could not believe what I was hearing.

If there are any members of the senior leadership of the U.S. Coast Guard who are reading this article perhaps they can provide some insight into how “political sensitivity” relates to the safety of mariners. To be clear, as mariners, our world is not about politics or cronyism or political sensitivity. At sea or offshore, our world is very black and white and the one thing we all want to do is to come home safely to our families and loved ones. 


My personal opinion and interpretation of “political sensitivity” is that the U.S. Coast Guard does not want to “upset” the management of companies such as Noble Drilling. After all, these companies employ many former members of the U.S. Coast Guard. Noble Drilling is no exception to this. This is articulated further in this article. Members of the U.S. Coast Guard know that if they are lenient and/or “cooperative” with these companies then there will be a lucrative position for them upon leaving the U.S. Coast Guard. This quid pro quo and “revolving door” is not a coincidence and it has been going on for years. This is a direct conflict of interest and the result is sub-standard inspections being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard with the end result having a direct effect on the safety of the mariner.

A textbook example of this is former U.S. Coast Guard sector Jacksonville Commander, “Captain” Jeff Dixon. Upon leaving the U.S. Coast Guard in April 2017 he went to work for TOTE in May 2017 and in January 2019 he was promoted to President of TOTE.

Coincidentally, the U.S. Coast Guard has, to the best of my knowledge, not levied the civil fines on TOTE as a result of the tragic loss of the “Ef Faro.” It appears that things have worked out quite well for TOTE and Mr. Dixon. 

At the time of my termination, Noble Drillings “compliance” group was headed by VP/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow. Mr. Sanislow is a 1989 graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy and at one time held a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited Tonnage Deck License. Mr. Sanislow is also an attorney for Noble Drilling. The Director of Compliance was Mr. Jim Gormanson who was a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. In addition, ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka, Mr. Odell Reid and Mr. Alan Grodecki are all former members of the U.S. Coast Guard and were all members of the “compliance” and/or “health, safety & environmental” (HSE) group at Noble Drilling at the time of my termination. ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka, whom I made my safety report to, is a twenty-seven year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard who spent the last seven years of his Coast Guard career in marine inspections. One would think that a regulatory “compliance” group led by a maritime academy graduate, a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and several other members who were all former members of the U.S. Coast Guard would be well versed in compliance with applicable maritime laws and regulations.

Specifically, it is not unreasonable to expect that all of them would be well versed and knowledgable in safety regulations contained in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations as well as those required by SOLAS. SOLAS is an abbreviation for the “International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.”

One would also think that while the ink was still drying on a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Noble Drilling had just commenced four years probation that ADPA Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka would not be recommending to Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins and Captain Daniel Askins that they should let the U.S. Coast Guard “broach the subject first” regarding the condition of a faulty and defective fast rescue craft (FRC) gravity davit.

This directive was contained in an email (which is attached) the night before and the morning of the U.S. Coast Guard Inspection of February 10, 2015. This is in direct violation of the law and it is also extremely unethical. Considering ADPA Jedlicka’s background with the U.S. Coast Guard this directive is unconscionable. Perhaps, the U.S. Coast Guard viewed Noble’s  behavior as an embarrassment and a “black eye” for the U.S. Coast Guard. After all, it does speak volumes that the compliance group of an eight time convicted felon that is reoffending within two months of commencing probation is comprised, primarily, of former members of the U.S. Coast Guard.



Perhaps, that is what they meant by “political sensitivity?” From strictly a personal point of view, any individual with an unlimited tonnage license (especially an Unlimited Masters License) who would knowingly, willingly sign off on false logbook entries for something as critical as lifesaving equipment is not worthy of possessing any type of Merchant Mariner Credential.

The conduct of the U.S. Coast Guard and their former members reached a new low when my attorney informed me that the “expert” witness that Noble Drilling was going to use against me in my litigation with Noble Drilling was U.S. Coast Guard Captain David L. Nichols. Mr. Nichols was the U.S. Coast Guards 8th District former Chief of the Outer Continental Shelf Division which was responsible for the safety and security of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Nichols retired from the Coast Guard in 2015. Given the truth, the facts and the evidence I don’t know how this individual, in good conscience, could actually testify and/or provide expert counsel and defend Noble Drilling in their actions; especially, where they were already an eight-time convicted felon on probation.

According to his Linkedin profile he is presently employed by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). Perhaps, the potential involvement of Mr. Nichols providing “expert” testimony for Noble Drilling contributed to the “political sensitivity” that was previously referred to. 

In addition, in May 2017, I notified the Liberian Registry of Noble Drillings conduct. As the Flag State they have a responsibility to ensure their vessels comply with the law and applicable rules and regulations as well as complying with the ISM Code and safety management systems. Considering Noble was a convicted felon on probation notifying them seemed appropriate. As with the U.S. Coast Guard they came up with excuses and took no action. Coincidentally, there are many former members of the U.S. Coast Guard employed at the Liberian Registry. I have copies of all of the email correspondence with them. As with the U.S. Coast Guard, they made excuses, looked the other way and did nothing. 

This was an opportunity for the U.S. Coast Guard and the Flag State to send a message to corporations such as Noble Drilling and set a precedent that this type of conduct would not be tolerated. Instead, they did just the opposite and set the horrible precedent that this type of conduct was acceptable. The action of doing nothing is tantamount to consent and approval. As I previously stated, when there are no consequences for illegal, irresponsible and dangerous corporate behavior there is no incentive for them to change. 
 
A real Captain puts his crew and vessel first above all else including themselves. The U.S. Coast Guard is supposed to have “the back” of the mariner. However, corporations know they can fire their Captains for raising safety concerns and that they can get away with it because they know the U.S. Coast Guard will look the other way and do nothing. This is very, very dangerous. The U.S. Coast Guard has put politics, cronyism and corporate pandering ahead of the safety of the mariner. Who is looking out for the safety and well being of the mariner?  “Honor The Mariner” it says on the “prevention” page of the U.S. Coast Guard’s website. If only that were actually true.

The U.S. Coast Guard must change their culture of enablement. If they don’t, it is only inevitable that there will be more tragedies such as “El Faro”and “Deepwater Horizon.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If any of you have any questions or comments please feel to comment on the blog or to contact me directly. Until the next post……

Captain Jeffrey B. HagopianMassachusetts Maritime Academy – Class of 1988Cell: 978-764-3908Email: jbhagop@yahoo.com

Captain Jeff Hagopian: An Introduction

I am a 1988 graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I sailed VLCC’s as 3rd and 2nd Mate. I then came ashore for a bit and then returned to sea working as Captain and Chief Mate on three different IMO high speed craft. My last seagoing job was Captain of a dynamically positioned, mobile offshore deepwater drilling unit for Noble Drilling aboard the vessel “Noble Danny Adkins.” Presently, and since March 2017, I have been a training instructor for the U.S. Navy at the Surface Warfare Officers School located in Newport, RI. I teach both conventional surface combatant vessels as well as the high speed littoral combat ships to Navy Officers that range from Lieutenants to Commanding Officers. 

I had been Captain of the previously mentioned “Noble Danny Adkins” for five years from March 2010 to March 31, 2015. Prior to that, in 2009, I was Chief Mate on the “Noble Danny Adkins” during the vessels final phases of construction in Singapore and prior to the vessels arrival in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico which was in February 2010. The “Noble Danny Adkins” was on contract to Shell until mid-2014 and the vessel earned and enjoyed an outstanding reputation for safety, regulatory compliance, efficiency and crew morale. The “Noble Danny Adkins” was considered to be one of, if not, the best vessels in the Noble Drilling fleet. 

On March 31, 2015, my employment was terminated from Noble Drilling. This termination took place eleven days after I filed a report of illegal safety violations that took place on the vessel in my absence. These safety violations were extremely egregious. Morally, ethically and legally, I was obligated to report this. On March 18th and March 20, 2015, I reported the safety violations to Noble Drilling’s “Alternate Designated Person Ashore,” (ADPA)Vaclav “Jed” Jedlicka. Eleven days after filing my report of these safety violations, March 31, 2015, I was fired. What I didn’t realize is, at the time, that my report to ADPA Jedlicka exposed both corporate and vessel management, in collusion and agreement, as it pertained to the illegal safety violations I reported.

The result was my termination eleven days later. The details of my termination is contained in a post on this website titled “On Whistleblowing.”
My whistleblower/retaliatory termination has been a very eye-opening experience. I care deeply about our industry and the safety of all mariners. Mariners may disagree on many things; however, the one common denominator all mariners should share is safety. We all want to come home to our families and loved ones. In this day and age, mariners in any capacity should not be fearful of retaliation and/or termination for raising safety issues to management. Unfortunately, it still keeps happening. 

I want to be clear that this is not about me. It is about us as an industry and changes that need to be made to what is a very broken system. What happened in my situation can happen to any of us. My goal and my passion is to try as best I can to prevent this type of activity from repeating itself. I would welcome any mariner to please feel free to comment or to contact me directly at 978-764-3908 or jbhagop@yahoo.com. Thank you and until the next post. 

Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian

Cell: 978-764-3908

Email: jbhagop@yahoo.com

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