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University ship runs aground in Fla. Keys

MIAMI, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The crew of the University of Miami's marine research vessel is being investigated for running aground last month and not immediately reporting the incident.

Because the 96-foot F.G. Walton Smith reportedly struck a shallow reef in Biscayne National Park Oct. 13, then cruised on without reporting the incident to authorities, the university and the ship's captain could face stiff penalties, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

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The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the crew for possible negligence and for failing to immediately notify marine authorities. Park managers, meanwhile, are investigating why the ship went off course.

''They should have known better,'' Biscayne Superintendent Mark Lewis was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Otis Brown, dean of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, told the newspaper neither the captain nor university administrators intended to cover up the mishap.

"On a personal level, I'm just mortified it happened, but it was an accident," Brown said. "We're all in agreement the information flow did not get to the right people in a timely manner."

He also issued a statement saying: "There is no excuse for not reporting an accident immediately. Upon learning that a grounding occurred in the park, I launched an internal investigation and notified Park Officials of the accident. The investigation is still ongoing."

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