86 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
When Young relayed Levy’s concerns to the Coast Guard, its comman-
dant, Admiral James Gracey, wrote back that the new radar would be as
good as the old, without compromising safety. A Coast Guard radar expert
made the same claim at the Exxon Valdez disaster hearing in 1989.
However, within a year of the debut of the Raytheon equipment, Coast
Guard Commander Michael Cavett complained about poor reception
during the bad weather common to the Sound and asked for an upgrade of
radar at Potato Point. Cavett wrote in April, 1985 that “the installation of a
10 cm radar system could improve tracking ability in rain, wind, and snow.
I request one of the 3 cm radar systems at Potato Point be replaced with a
10 cm system. Note that a shorter wavelength enables better definition of
the target on the radarscope, but for a shorter range. During precipitation,
3 cm radar is more attenuated (reduced) than is 10 cm radar. This 3 cm
system was still in use when the Exxon Valdez collided with Bligh Reef
(Jones, 1989).
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Palast, G., Exxon lubricated by Bush judges. The Observer, B1, September 2, 2003.
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