Probe: Harbor pilot called tanker crash just a touch

first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN FRANCISCO – Investigators want to know if a harbor pilot under investigation in San Francisco Bay’s biggest oil spill in nearly two decades initially played down the damage to the ship, Coast Guard officials said Monday. Immediately after the Cosco Busan struck the Bay Bridge last week, Capt. John Cota quickly radioed authorities to report the vessel had “touched” the bridge, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation. “Traffic, we just touched the delta span,” Cota said, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing criminal probe. Cota was referring to one of four supports beneath the bridge’s western section. The impact caused no structural damage to the bridge, but it opened a 90-foot gash in the hull of the ship and ruptured its fuel tank, dumping 58,000 gallons into the bay and fouling miles of coastline and killing dozens of shorebirds. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “The comments made or the actions taken by individuals are all things that they could be held accountable for,” said Rear Adm. Craig Bone, the top Coast Guard officer in California. Sr. Chief Petty Officer Keith Alholm, a Coast Guard spokesman, said “one of the aspects of the investigation is, were the reports made accurate” following the collision. But Cota’s lawyer said his client did not immediately realize the severity of the crash. “He has told me you could hardly feel anything on the ship and he must have assumed from that that there wasn’t much damage,” attorney John Meadows said. “The ship didn’t roll. There wasn’t a loud sound.” Bone said the owners and operators of the ship would unquestionably face civil penalities.last_img

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