Deadly waters

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Citing Reveal’s February investigation, three senators have recently called on the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into VT Halter Marine, a shipbuilding company in Mississippi. The former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have also called on the Navy to stop contracting with dangerous shipbuilders. We also have an update on Bram Ates, one of the workers featured in the original investigation, who died in June. Police are investigating.

The US Navy spends billions of dollars each year building and repairing ships. But how safe are the shipyards where that work is done? Reporter Jennifer Gollan and producer Stan Alcorn investigate how lax safety has been allowed to persist at shipyards that thrive on military contracts. Their story takes an in-depth look at a tugboat explosion at VT Halter Marine.

President Donald Trump has called for an increase in the size of the Navy fleet, from 274 ships to at least 350. What will that increase mean for shipbuilders, and will taxpayers be getting their money’s worth? Reporter Sukey Lewis explores one of the newest warships in the Navy’s fleet and whether it’s living up to expectations.

And finally, we head to the Pacific Ocean, where a man whose job it was to make sure fishing boats play by the rules vanished mysteriously at sea. Fisheries observers monitor the fish that boats haul in from the ocean to help prevent overfishing. This sometimes puts them at odds with the crew, and in recent years, there’s been an increase in reports of abuse and harassment of observers. Our story is from Reveal’s Tom Knudson.

Illustration by Anna Vignet for Reveal



Al Letson