A Coast Guard officer who was under investigation after grounding a Jonesport-based cutter in February has been permanently relieved of his command as the officer in charge of the 87-foot patrol boat, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Christopher Bouchard had been temporarily relieved of his command of the Moray on March 6 “for loss of confidence in the ability to command.” He was temporarily reassigned to the Coast Guard sector field office in Southwest Harbor as the investigation proceeded.

Rear Adm. William G. Kelly of the Coast Guard Personnel Command in Washington, D.C., made the decision permanent Friday. He allowed Bouchard to remain assigned to the sector field office with no further disciplinary action.

The Moray sustained hull damage when the vessel ran aground Feb. 20 on Petit Manan Point, a national wildlife refuge off Jonesport. The 12 crew members were uninjured, and the Moray made it back to port safely under its own power.

The Coast Guard has made no decision on who will replace Bouchard as officer in charge while the Moray undergoes repairs at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Maryland. Repairs are expected to be completed by the middle of the month, and a new officer in charge will be assigned then.

A Coast Guard spokeswoman, Lt. Karen Kutkiewicz, said after Bouchard was first relieved of duty that such a move is rare in the Coast Guard.


“This is highly unusual. We don’t relieve our commanding officers very often,” Kutkiewicz told the Press Herald in March. “We hold our officers in charge to the highest standards.”

Though it isn’t clear whether Bouchard was using the joystick to steer the vessel, or was even on the bridge when it ran aground, Kutkiewicz said his whereabouts are irrelevant.

“The officer in charge is responsible for the safe movement of the ship,” she said.

The Moray’s grounding was not the first incident involving Bouchard, Kutkiewicz said.

“The grounding sparked an investigation, but it wasn’t just the grounding,” she said. “He failed to follow Coast Guard rules and regulations on more than one occasion.”

The Moray is used primarily to enforce fishing regulations. It is also used in drug enforcement and search-and-rescue missions. It has remained out of service since the grounding.


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