U.S. Merchant Marine Officer Killed in Accident in Middle East

An American merchant marine officer who had recently resumed his career at sea after running his own business was killed in an accident during cargo-loading operations in the port of Bahrain.

Harlan P. Crouch II, 44, was a mate assigned to a Liberty Maritime freighter which was loading cargo in the Persian Gulf port of Bahrain on July 3. Though details of the incident have not been released, Crouch was killed aboard his ship while he was on duty.

Crouch, who was born in what was then the U.S. Panama Canal Zone, was an experienced mariner. After attending American-run schools in the Canal Zone, Crouch worked aboard a tugboat for several years. He attended Panama Canal Zone College in the early 1990s, then received an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, N.Y.

After graduating from the academy in 1996, Crouch went to sea for several years. He then set up his own business, Cocobolo, Inc, where he imported and sold tropical hardwoods from Panama.

In 2012, after marrying Caroline Hinkle, Crouch returned to sea duty. He signed on as a ship’s mate with Liberty Maritime, a shipping company based in New York state that provides freight services to commercial customers as well as to U.S. government and humanitarian agencies.

Crouch was serving aboard a bulk freighter of the Liberty-class at the time of his death. He leaves behind his widow Caroline and seven-month-old son, Harlan III.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Office of Marine Safety (OMS), hundreds of work-related incidents aboard U.S.-flagged ships at sea or in ports cause many injuries and deaths.

Per the NTSB’s most current statistics, 55 maritime professionals died as a result of accidents in 2012. Most of these deaths occurred aboard working vessels, such as fishing trawlers, container ships, bulk carriers, and tankers.  These deaths were frequently caused by:

  • Cargo-handling accidents
  • Slip-trip-and-fall accidents
  • Falls overboard
  • Shipboard fires
  • Crane and winch accidents
  • Broken or loose ladders
  • Poorly maintained hatches
  • Electrical accidents
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Enclosed space accidents

The most common causes of fatal accidents aboard American-owned vessels are mechanical failure and human error. In many instances, human error, such as lack of safety training and gear, could have been prevented with the correct measures by employers.

For additional information on maritime accidents and injuries, we invite you to fill out our contact form today to receive a free copy of our Maritime Injury Guide. Each guide is filled with pertinent details for maritime workers and their loved ones, including your legal rights and options if you were negligently injured while on the job.


  1. http://libertymar.com/vessels.html
  2. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/US-Merchant-Mariner-Killed-in-Ship-Accident-Before-Baby-Born-2014-07-08
  3. http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/harlan_crouch2014/Subpage.aspx?mod=1