Forensic Engineering

VGYD is available to serve as a forensic naval architect in the investigation and determination of structural damage or failures to marine structures, their causes and their effects. We will also act as an expert witness in litigations where complex technical issues need to be examined and explained in court or in deposition. VGYD will also act as consultants to marine insurance companies in the determination of damage causes.

Cynthia Woods


On June 6, 2008 the Cynthia Woods, a Cape Fear 38, suffered a catastrophic failure in the fiberglass structure in way of the keel. At the time, the boat was participating in a race from Galveston, Texas to Mexico with four Texas A&M students and two safety officers on board. All escaped the sinking boat except for one of the instructors. VGYD was hired by the lawyers for the decease’s family to examine the design, the building and the maintenance history of the boat and assess its structural integrity at the time leading up to the accident.

48ft Power Catamaran


On its delivery voyage from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts this 48 foot power cat ran into some rough conditions which allegedly lead to a failure in the internal structure and outside laminate of the tunnel area of the hull. Hydrodynamic pressure eventually stripped the entire outside skin away from the core leaving only pitted foam and the inside skin. VGYD was hired by the lawyers for the owner to investigate the design details and construction of the boat and to determine whether the structure met established scantling and strength requirements.

55ft Motor Yacht


This motor yacht had a fire in the engine room. It was quickly contained but unfortunately a lot of equipment, including the engines, were damaged from the heat and smoke. VGYD was hired by the insurance company to determine whether there had been any structural damage to the fiberglass and to investigate the claim that the hull had suffered some distortion due to the heat generated from the fire.

25ft Center Console Sportsfishing Boat


While on an offshore fishing trip this production-built sportsfisher capsized unexpectedly throwing the boat’s five occupants into winter temperature waters. Four of those people died of hypothermia and one survived. VGYD was hired by the lawyers of the sole survivor to help determine the cause of the accident and whether the manufacturer and equipment suppliers were at fault.

60’ Motor Yacht


This 60ft motor yacht has been plagued with mechanical problems as a result of an inadequately design engine room ventilation system which allowed sea water to compromise critical components. Van Gorkom Yacht Design was brought in to assist Murry & Associates, LLC in determining the viability of the system. This included sea trials conducted in Venezuela and working with the Italian court system to find a mutually acceptable settlement between the owner and the yacht manufacturer.

27’ Cruising/fishing boat


This accident occurred when a young girl was attempting to board a 27ft power boat from the swim platform. The twin propeller stern drive ensnarled her leg and as a result the young lady was permanently disfigured. Van Gorkom Yacht Design was hired by the legal team representing the family of the girl to render an opinion on the malfunction of the throttle/shift control system which allegedly resulted in a failure to transmit the correct mechanical signal to the sterndrive unit.

43’ Cruiser/racer sail boat


When this 43 foot cruiser/racer was caught in bad weather and choppy sea conditions, it allegedly resulted in areas of major delamination in the hull shell. Van Gorkom Yacht Design was brought in by the insurance company to conduct an examination of the structure. This involved taking core samples to determine if there was a pre-existing condition that could have perpetuated the damage suffered during the storm.

18’ Day Sailer


This tragic accident involved the capsizing and sinking of an 18 foot sail boat which resulted in the deaths of two of the three crew and a dog. The case was complicated by the fact the boat was destroyed after it was recovered. Van Gorkom Yacht Design was hired by the lawyers representing the boat builder’s insurance company to investigate the circumstances of the accident. VGYD utilized advanced analytical tools, scientific procedures and 35 years of sailing experience and design knowledge of small sailing boats to accurately recreate and model the tragic events of that day based on the testimony of the sole survivor.