Cosco Busan Update

 accident reporting, allision, bridge, containership  Comments Off on Cosco Busan Update
Sep 202008

Our good feiwend John Konrad of the great gCaptain site sent us the following email. It’s certainly worth clicking the clicks:

It’s been a few months since I sent those interested in the Cosco Busan an email. My apologies, the incident in New Orleans has been time consuming. As you might have seen on our blog, we recently had the privilege to reprint an article Paul Drouin wrote for Seaways magazine. (LINK: )

Our friend Professor Kurt Schwehr helped us with some of the initial AIS analysis and has compiled the radar images of the incident on his blog. Take a look:

Meanwhile, John Upton of the San Francisco Examiner give us an update on the Cosco Busan detainees here:

John is the only journalist - indeed the only person in 'liberal' San Francisco, taking an interest in the situation regarding the Cosco Busan detainees, who haven't been charged but are being held as 'material witnesses' contrary to the IMO's upcoming code of conduct and internationally recognised fair treatment of seafarers.

Maybe the detainees have reason to wonder why 'freedom fries' are so called.

Cosco Busan Detainees – Where are the T-Shirts?

 allision  Comments Off on Cosco Busan Detainees – Where are the T-Shirts?
May 052008

(Note: a technical glitch re-sent this post on RSS feeds in March 2012. Please be aware this was published in May 2008 and is no longer current. However, issue of seafarer detention remains an issue)

Nobody’s wearing any t-shirts proclaiming ‘Free The Cosco Busan Six’, no craggy-jawed celebrity is taking up their cause at the UN, but, then, they’re not cute whales or seals, not noticeably gay, don’t appear to advocate political or cultural extremism, and aren’t being murdered in Dafur, and, anyway, only two  US newspapers have mentioned them, no prime time soundbites. They fall beneath the liberal radar because they’re simply seafarers waiting to go home.

They, of course, are the six seafarers detained in San Franscico awaiting the pleasure of American courts. They are not charged with anything, they are being held as material witness’s in the trial of Cosco Busan pilot John Cota.

They did, at least, get mentioned by Howard Mintz in the San Jose Mercury and John Upton in the National Examiner, which appears to have been more than they got in the maritime industry press, in which they seem to be invisible.

True, they are living in a reasonable apartment, they have been allowed to visit the local Chinatown and museums, almost certainly under the watchful eye of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service or spooks from the Department of Homeland Security (As British House Of Commons Transport Committee report points out, seafarers are regarded as little more than terrorists in the US). They are getting a $50 a day meal allowance from the ship owner, which is far from excessive or unreasonable. As Howard Mintz points out, it isn’t exactly Gitmo.

If they had been charged with a crime and were awaiting trial, those would be pretty good conditions to be held in. But they are not. They are not being detained voluntarily, but under court order.

At the moment they are receiving their salaries from their company, which ends on 31st May. Cota’s trial has yet to be set. They’ve lost their jobs on the Cosco Busan and can’t find replacement employment because of their detention.

The US Attorney’s Office is willing to let them go home once they’ve given depositions, but it appears that can’t be done until June.

Yet another reason not to be a seafarer, or, at least, to keep clear of the US.


Not Being John Cota

 allision  Comments Off on Not Being John Cota
Apr 112008

“Capt. Cota acknowledges the lack of situational awareness and does not expect it to happen again.”
Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays: Investigation into the grounding of the M/V Pioneer…on 20 February 2006.

Bay pilot John Cota’s week it wasn’t, starting April 8, 2008. Since the US Department of Justice has already charged him on two criminal counts, an act likely to hinder a helpful investigation, his lawyers advised him to claim the protection under the Fifth Amendment of the US constitution against self-incrimination and declined to give testimony at the public hearings of the US National Transportation Safety Board, a protection ironically, which the US government does not want extended to non-US seafarers.

The ship’s crew, currently detained as ‘material witnesses’ for Cota’s trial did not give testimony, either.

Much of the second day of the hearing was occupied by evidence on Cota’s medical condition and previous history of alcohol abuse – he was tested for alcohol immediately after the incident and found clear. After the incident, the US Coast Guard asked Cota to surrender his mariner’s license because “the listed potential side effects of those medications and how they may or may not have some impact upon his judgment, his ability to function, cognitive ability,” said Chief of the Regional Exam Center, George Buffleben.

A medical witness, Dr. Robert Bourgeois, told the hearing “I wouldn’t want anyone taking those medicines and having to make decisions in a safety-sensitive position”. When asked if he would let his children board a bus with a driver using such medication, he said “my kids would not be on that bus”.

John Cota, call sign Romeo, was evaluated for renewal of his license in January 2007 under a system that is currently undergoing changes. However, this does call into question the effectiveness of the medical examination process.

This does not necessarily mean that Cota was suffering impairment. If he was, the hearing was told, it would be difficult for the master or officers to tell whether or not he was so impaired as to present a hazard. Under US legislation ship’s officers are required to obey the orders of the pilot unless he is clearly incompetent or incapacitated.

There has been much comment about alleged problems with the radar, AIS and ECIDS, with Cota saying that the latter was confusing. It is clear for the VDR transcript that he was struggling with both. The pilot who had conducted the Cosco Busan inbound, Captain Nyborg, had no problems with radar or AIS, and these were found to be working after the incident.

He also had little problem communicating with the Captain, Mao Cai Sun, nor with the helmsman.

Captain Nyborg did notice a problem with the ECDIS, with the track being offset to the west. Nyborg disembarked the Cosco Busan and later went to the pilot conference centre for a monthly meeting. From there he saw the ship coming away from anchorage 7 and moving towards anchorage 9, “I was surprised because I recognized her as a ship I put in Oakland, and it would be very unusual for that ship to be coming to the wrong direction unless something had happened or something was wrong, like if they had a breakdown or something” said Nyborg. Other pilots present told Nyborg about the allision.

“I tried to remember where, you know, what issues I might have had with it, and what my, you know, if I had any difficulties or, you know, bad helmsman or anything like that. Nothing stuck out in my mind except that I, I remembered that, gee, I think that ECDIS display was showing a poor course as far as — a poor planned route through Delta Echo span, and I wondered if they had tracked the same deal coming outbound,” he told investigators.

Cota arrived at the meeting looking shaken: “(He) actually sat down within 3 or 4 feet of me, and I scooted my chair over and out of concern asked him, John, how you doing? He described how he was doing. Oh, my God, John, what happened? And, and he was visibly shaken. And I said you know what you should look into that – you should look into this ECDIS display because I believe it was, it was running West of where it should have been on my inbound. And of course I didn’t need it, but if you relied on it at all maybe it ought to be something that is investigated.”

Surprisingly, or prehaps not considering the possible emotional impact of the event, Cota forgot about the meeting: “John called me last night, and he had actually — didn’t recall me telling him that. He’s like there’s rumor around that you saw this or saw that, and I’m like, John, I talked to you at the meeting. Didn’t you remember that meeting? He said, no. I was really rattled, and I probably talked to people I didn’t, I don’t remember talking to. And that’s very understandable, you know,” said Nyborg.

To be continued

This entry was posted o

Apr 052008

Cosco Busan pilot John Cota has invoked his right under the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects accused persons from self-incrimination, not to appear at the US National Transportation Safety Board hearings which start on 8th April. Through lawyers, he claims that VTS personnel were betting on whether the 65,131 tonnes container ship would hit the San Francisco -Oakland Bay Bridge on November 7, 2007.

Sideswiping the bridge’s fenders, a gash was opened in the ship’s side that resulted in a 55,000 gallon spill of fuel oil.

The two-day public NTSB hearings will follow a 7th April conference to fix the final agenda. NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker, who will chair the hearing says, “This accident presents the Board with many questions, such as: Was the Cosco Busan’s bridge navigation equipment working properly? Was there adequate oversight of the San Francisco bar pilot? Did the Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service exert the appropriate level of control over the Cosco Busan?”

A further issue may be the possible effect of medication being taken by Cota for sleep apnea.

Cota’s lawyers claim that the Coast Guard VTS service could have avoided the accident but did not clearly communicate their concern to Cota and that VTS personnel discussed and took bets on whether the Cosco Busan would hit the bridge, based on “waterfront rumours”. The letter also says that the Coast Guard did not warn mariners about the fog and that Cota “… prevented a worse catastrophe by his clear and cool thinking.”

Cota faces prosecution for two misdemeanors under the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. If found guilty, Cota could face a one year prison sentence or fines totalling $115,000.  Some six members of the Cosco Busan crew, who have not been charged are in detention as ‘material witnesses’ pending Cota’s trial.

The Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun has charged Cota with misconduct and the US Coast Guard has demanded his Merchant Marine Officer’s license because it “believes he is not physically competent to maintain the license.”

Regardless of the results of Cota’s trial or the NTSB hearing, the incident will throw the spotlight on the relationship between Pilot and Master, recently the subject of a Maritime Executive editorial, As pointed out in the responses to that item, the pilkot, at least under US law, is more than merely an adviser, a master is required to obey the pilot, and the bridge crew are required to obey the pilot as if he was the master, unless there is clear indication of the pilot’s incapacity or incompetence.

By which it’s usually too late.

 Posted by at 08:43  Tagged with: , ,

Maritime Safety News Today – 16th March 2008

 allision, collision  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today – 16th March 2008
Mar 162008
Tanker, Vessel Collide In NY Harbor
WNBC – New York,NY,USA
The Coast Guard Sector New York Vessel Traffic Service received notification from both vessels after the collision. A 33-foot Coast Guard Station New York

Dozen barges run aground on Ohio River in western Ky.
Fort Mills Times – Fort Mill,SC,USA
The grounding is under investigation. The Coast Guard said no pollution has been reported and river traffic remains unaffected.
Probe into maritime accident
Athens News Agency – Athens,Greece
The accident, where the tourist vessel ran aground on Platia, an islet north of the island of Poros in the Saronic Gulf, occurred on Thursday in excellent

Investigators say Suncruz casino boat may have damaged sea grass – St. Petersburg,FL,USA
by some other vessel. The sea grass beds serve as a vital nursery and feeding ground for a variety of species, including manatees, lobster and redfish.
Posted 03/14/08 at 09:57 AM
A P&O cruise liner damaged in stormy weather on its way from Southampton to the Caribbean has left port after being fully repaired, BBC reported.  Artemis, carrying 1,188 passengers, made an unscheduled call at Falmouth, Cornwall, for the work…
RCMP to take new look at BC ferry sinking
Toronto Star – Ontario, Canada
The RCMP has been investigating whether a crime was committed in the sinking of the vessel two years ago that killed passengers Shirley Rosette and Gerald 

Maritime Safety News Today – 13th March 2008

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Mar 132008

Three dead, one missing in SW China boat crash
Xinhua – China
a local maritime source said on Tuesday. The accident happened on the Wu River in Changshou District at 8 pm when a passenger ship from the suburban 

Another Oil Tanker Accident in Korean Waters
Chosun Ilbo – Seoul,South Korea
Another oil tanker collided with a ship off the coast of Yeosu, South Jeolla Province on Tuesday night. The collision between the 4050-ton oil tanker 

Maritime agency grounds tanker that hit Cebu bridge – Philippines
By the time the Coast Guard and Maritime policemen arrived at the accident site, the vessel was already gone, Martin said. Martin said the crew of the

BC Ferries Responds to TSB Report on Queen of the North
Opinion250 News – Prince George,British Columbia,Canada
change at Sainty Point, and that the vessel proceeded on an incorrect course for four nautical miles over 14 minutes until its grounding on Gil Island. 

 Posted by at 10:10  Tagged with: , ,

Maritime Safety News Today – 20 February 2008

 allision, collision, Sinking  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today – 20 February 2008
Feb 202008
Japanese Navy Collision With Fishing Vessel Leaves Two Missing
Bloomberg – USA
By Takashi Hirokawa Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) — Two people are missing after a Japanese Navy destroyer collided with and sank a fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean

9:30 AM: Weekend collision at sea causes diesel spill
Beaumont Enterprise – Beaumont,TX,USA
The Grady Fagan, an offshore supply vessel, struck a rig, the Ocean Star, early Saturday morning roughly 140 miles southeast of Galveston, according to the

Freighter runs aground off Iniö in Finland
Newsroom Finland – Helsinki,Finland
the ship, although damaged in the bow, carried on toward Naantali under its own steam. The captain, who was at the helm at the time of the grounding,

Disabled Russian navy vessel in Aegean Sea being towed
Xinhua – China
The ministry added all crew-members are safe and that there is no danger of the vessel sinking. The vessel reportedly faltered in rough seas due to engine

Old ferry sinks in Melbourne harbour
Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
No-one was on board the ferry when it sank, but there were plenty of bystanders to witness the sinking. The 33-metre ferry is now eight metres below the

Posted 02/19/08 at 08:35 AM

The barge that ran aground last Wednesday in the mouth of the Nanticoke River was refloated Thursday evening after a successful lightering operation. The double-hulled barge carrying 420,000 gallons of black oil was able to continue its voyage up the Nanticoke River after about a 1/3 of its cargo was lightered off the vessel reducing its weight.

Ship noise may hamper whale communication
Ventura County Star – Camarillo,CA,USA
McKenna says a joke among scientists is that you can measure America’s gross domestic product by sinking an underwater microphone in the ocean.


Maritime Safety News Today -14th February 2008

 allision, grounding  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today -14th February 2008
Feb 152008


At 17.50 this evening Clyde Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) received a call from Estuary Control reporting that a cargo vessel the Minerva 2 had lost engine power in the River Clyde.

Monterey Bay science vessel runs into rocks in Mexico
Monterey County Herald – Monterey,CA,USA
Damage to the ship is still being evaluated, but McNutt said the accident caused the loss of “probably a half year of science.” “It’s too bad — all the work 

Chesapeake Bay – tank barge grounds

The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that a tank barge grounded while transiting the Nanticoke River in Maryland.  There were no injuries and no pollution has been reported from the double-hull tank barge.  A salvage plan is being developed.  The incident is under investigation.

New Orleans – drifting freight ship results in difficulties

The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that a freight ship broke from its moorings at a wharf just downriver from New Orleans.  Before being brought under control, the ship allided with several other vessels and barges.  The incident is under investigation.

Posted 02/13/08 at 12:10 PM

Military Sealift Command large, medium-speed, RoRo ship USNS Seay conducted an at-sea rescue operation February 9 in the Straits of Gibraltar. At 12:50 a.m. the 950-ft. military cargo ship was notified by the Tarifa Rescue Coordination Center in Tarifa, Spain, that a small craft in their vicinity had issued a distress signal and needed assistance..

Bad weather delays trawler probe
BBC News – UK
A contract to remove the Spinningdale is in the process of being signed, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said. Fish, bait, fuel and oil on the boat 

Tornado damages Bahamas box hub A severe thunderstorm spawned a tornado that severely damaged the container terminal at the Freeport Container Port, Bahamas.

Maritime Global Net – Warren,RI,USA
PROMPTED by the prosecution of the Hebei Spirit’s master and mate, shipmanagers’ trade association InterManager,has thrown its weight behind the call for 

NS MP: Allow access to seafarers – Halifax,Nova Scotia,Canada
By TOM PETERS Business Reporter A Nova Scotia MP wants Ottawa to ensure unfettered access by a seafarer’s advocate to vessels flying flags of convenience to

Press Information Bureau (press release) – New Delhi,India
It enables the maritime forces to seize ships or aircraft involved in piracy and armed robbery besides information sharing, capacity building and