Mar 182008
 

Ship Pilot Charged in San Francisco Bay Oil Spill Case

WASHINGTON—John Joseph Cota, the pilot of the Cosco Busan, the 65,131-ton container ship that collided with the San Francisco Bay Bridge resulting in the discharge of approximately 58,000 gallons of oil, was charged today with violations of the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, announced Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Joseph P. Russoniello, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

According to the criminal information filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Cota was licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and the State of California as a Bar Pilot. He was a member of the San Francisco Bar Pilots and had been employed in the San Francisco Bay since 1981. Pilots are licensed professionals who are responsible for navigating ships through challenging waters. In California, large ocean-going vessels are required to be piloted when entering or leaving port.

The criminal information alleges that on Nov. 7, 2007, Cota negligently caused the discharge of approximately 58,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil from the Cosco Busan in violation of the Clean Water Act, as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. According to the charges, while piloting the ship from port in heavy fog, he failed to pilot a collision free course and failed to adequately review the proposed course with the Captain and crew on official navigational charts. Further, he failed to use the ship’s radar as he approached the Bay Bridge, use positional fixes or verify the ship’s position using official aids of navigation, throughout the voyage. According to the criminal information, these failures led to the Cosco Busan striking the bridge and spilling the oil.

As a result of the discharge of heavy fuel oil from the Cosco Busan, approximately 2,000 birds died, including Brown Pelicans, Marbled Murrelets and Western Grebes. The Brown Pelican is a federally endangered species and the Marbled Murrelet is a federally threatened species and an endangered species under California law.

Cota is charged with one count of violating the CWA and one count of violating the MBTA. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor violation of the CWA is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, and the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor violation of the MBTA is 6 months in prison and a $15,000 fine. A criminal information is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, the EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Geis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, and David Joyce, Trial Attorney with the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division with the assistance of Ana Guerra.

Pursuant to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, crime victims are afforded certain statutory rights including the opportunity to attend all public hearings and provide input to the prosecution. Those adversely impacted by the oil spill are encouraged to visit http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/can/community/Notifications/index.html and the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

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 Posted by at 20:56  Tagged with: ,

Maritime Safety News Today – 22 December

 capsize, collision, Offshore tug, oil, oil tanker, Pollution  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today – 22 December
Dec 222007
 

Fears grow for missing tug crew
Metro – London,UK
Ian Plater, sector manager for Clyde Maritime & Coastguard Agency, said: “We commenced our search at first light this morning. Most of the assets and units

‘Series of problems in Dolphin disaster’
The Herald – Glasgow,Scotland,UK
A series of problems and misunderstandings contributed to the Bourbon Dolphin disaster, which claimed eight lives when the oil-rig support tug capsized 75

Cosco Busan Captain’s Lawyer Asks For Hearing On Misconduct Charges
FoxReno.com – Reno,NV,USA
Meadows did object to the board’s accusation of misconduct “on the ground that it is so indefinite and uncertain that (the defendant, Cota) cannot identify 

Fast rescue boats
Amendments to part A of the STCW Code, also enter into force on 1 January 2008, add additional training requirements for the launching and recovery of fast rescue boats.
The amendments were adopted in response to reports of injuries to seafarers in numerous incidents involving the launching and recovery of fast rescue boats in adverse weather conditions.

SKorea to tighten rules against spill-prone oil tankers
AFP –
“Following the accident, we plan to advance the timetable to phase out singled-hulled vessels,” Lee Ki-Sang, deputy director of the Ministry of Maritime 

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US Coast Guard : Cosco Busan Pilot "Incompetent"

 allision, collision, competence, competency, pilotage  Comments Off on US Coast Guard : Cosco Busan Pilot "Incompetent"
Dec 112007
 

John J. Cota, who was the pilot aboard the Cosco Busan when it contacted the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been asked to surrender his Merchant Marine Officer’s license to the US Coast Guard.

An announcement from the Coast Guard says:

C”oast Guard Sector San Francisco has requested Capt. John J. Cota to voluntarily deposit his Federal Merchant Marine Officer’s license with the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard believes he is not physically competent to maintain the license.

Capt. Cota was the ship’s pilot, operating under the authority of a State of California pilot’s license, at the time of the incident.

Voluntary deposit is an administrative procedure used in cases where there is evidence of mental or physical incompetence. The mariner deposits his license with the Coast Guard on condition that the Coast Guard will not return it until the Coast Guard receives satisfactory evidence that the mariner is considered fit for full duty without qualification, and the mariner initiates action to regain his credentials. This gives the Coast Guard an assurance that the mariner is not working as a vessel pilot or officer.

If Capt. Cota refuses to voluntarily deposit his Federal Merchant Marine Officer’s license, the Coast Guard has the option to charge Capt. Cota with incompetence and request a hearing before an administrative law judge to seek suspension or revocation of his license.”

Captain Cota is currently facing charges of misconduct from the  the Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun.

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 Posted by at 10:41  Tagged with: , ,