SF’ist blog has sent us this breaking news item: The Cosco Busan is now departing shipyard in San Francisco.
The International Herald Tribune tells us;
The Hong Kong-based owner of a ship that spilled oil in San Francisco Bay has paid the federal government nearly $80 million (â‚¬55 million) as bail of sorts while U.S. officials seek a civil judgment, the Justice Department said Friday.
The government asked for and received $79.5 million (â‚¬54.8 million) — the full value of the ship — as the maritime equivalent of a release bond, said Andrew Ames, a department spokesman.
The deposit eliminates the government’s threat to seize the vessel, which could have cost taxpayers significant money, Ames said. The threat was part of a lawsuit filed last month by the federal government against the ship’s owner, Regal Stone Ltd.; Capt. John Cota, the pilot; and Regal Stone’s insurance company. Continue Reading…
The Coast Guard has asked Cota to voluntarily deposit his federal merchant marine officer’s license with the service on grounds he is not physically competent to maintain it.
Cota, however, has turned his license in to his lawyer. According to Coast Guard spokesman Dan Dewell, the service has accepted this arrangement with the stipulation that Cota will not sail with the license.
Cota, 60, has 26 years experience as a San Francisco bar pilot. Continue Reading…
Fred Fry brings us news that “Over 100 liable for COSCO BUSAN Oil Spill“;
In addition to financial compensation, the suit seeks an injunction requiring defendants to implement a plan to assess, monitor, and remediate all damages caused by the spill. Defendants include the owner, operator, manager, pilot, and John Does 1-100.
He’s not kidding when he says that they are suing everyone. Of note is this comment about 100 John Does who the City of San Francisco also named as defendants:
The true names or capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate, or otherwise, of DOE I through DOE 100 are unknown to plaintiffs, who therefore sue such defendants by such fictitious names, and who will amend this complaint to show their true names and capacities when ascertained. Continue Reading…
At about 0600 on Wednesday, 07 November 2007, Captain Cota boarded the M/V COSCO BUSAN at Oakland Berth 56 to act as its pilot for its transit from Berth 56 to sea. The vessel was scheduled to sail at 0630.
6. Once aboard the vessel, Captain Cota was escorted to the bridge where he met the ship’s captain and bridge team, whose English skills were limited, as was their familiarity with the ship and her navigation equipment.
7. Captain Cota was unfamiliar with the ship’s electronic chart system and the markings thereon. Additionally, Captain Cota had concerns regarding the operational status of the radars prior to departure.
8. At 0748 the COSCO BUSAN left the safety of the berth under Captain Cota’s guidance. At the time of departure, he had reason to doubt whether the ship could proceed safely and he had insufficient information about the level of visibility along his intended route. Under the circumstances, the COSCO BUSAN’s departure from Berth 56 was contrary to the guidelines in the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bays Harbor Safety Plan (“HSP”), which provide for various factors to be considered before moving a vessel (see Section XIV. Pilotage) and further provide that: “Vessels within the Bay at a dock … should not commence movement if visibility is less than .5 nautical miles throughout the intended route, unless the operator’s assessment of all variables is that the vessel can proceed safely.” HSP at pp. 5 and 43.
9. Once clear of the berth and in mid-channel, Captain Cota directed the assist tug, REVOLUTION, to put up a line to the ship’s stern and follow the ship with a slack line. He planned to let the tug go once they were out of the estuary.
10. Captain Cota ordered “Half Ahead” when the ship exited the Oakland Inner Harbor Entrance Channel. That engine order would bring the ship’s speed under prevailing circumstances to about 11 knots as the ship would be stemming a one-knot flood current. The engine order remained at Half Ahead for about 7 minutes, at which time Captain Cota ordered “Full Ahead.” The ship allided with the bridge less than 3 minutes after the Full Ahead bell.
11. During the period that the ship was at Half Ahead, the visibility in the approach to the bridge was reduced to about 0.1 nm, the ship’s radar pictures deteriorated to the point that Captain Cota lost confidence in them, and he lost situational awareness to accurately assess the vessel’s position, although he had the means to do so.
12. Under the circumstances, prudence and compliance with Inland Navigation Rules 6, 7 and 19 would have dictated that Captain Cota reduce speed and/or proceed to Anchorage 9 rather than continue to attempt to transit under the bridge between the Delta and Echo towers, which he could not see on radar and which were not visible due to the dense fog.
13. The Bay Bridge has a fixed green light with 3 white lights in a vertical line on the bridge and a radar beacon (RACON) above the center of the channel between the Delta and Echo towers. In addition, there is a nun buoy with a radar reflector on each side of the Delta Tower, fog horns on both the Delta and Echo towers and a bell marking the Charlie tower of the bridge. As the pilot with local knowledge, Captain Cota should have ensured that the lookout had been properly instructed as to what to look and listen for and what to report prior to approaching the bridge.
14. Captain Cota failed to make full use of all available resources, including the tug
REVOLUTION, which remained tethered to the stern and thus useless to him, of the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service, which could have provided more information as to his position and heading if he had requested it, and of his ship’s lookout, who could have provided information on the bridge’s fog signals and lights if the lookout had been properly instructed.
Download the full report HERE.