Articles Posted in Vessel Collisions

Published on:

Captain John Joseph Cota was sentenced to ten months in federal prison after he caused the Cosco Busan, a 900-ft container ship to collide with the San Francisco Bay Bridge. This collision discharged approximately 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay, killing 2,400 birds of about 50 species, temporarily closing a fishery, and delaying the start of the crab-fishing season. According to prosecutors, Cota was “guilty of far more than a mere slip-up or an otherwise innocuous mistake that yielded unforeseeably grave damage. Rather, he made a series of intentional and negligent acts and omissions…”

Cota’s first mistake was departing in extreme fog. According to prosecutors the fog was so thick the bow of the vessel was not visible from the bridge. Regardless of the limited visibility, Cota continued on with his voyage. Furthermore, the vessel did not have a properly functioning radar. However, Cota did not notify the master or the United States Coast Guard that a piece of safety equipment was needed. Neither Cota nor any crewmember consulted the ship’s official navigations chart or take a single positional fix despite the lack of visibility. Finally, Cota did not disclose his medical conditions and prescription drug use on the required paperwork for the Coast Guard. Cota’s vessel eventually collided with the San Francisco Bridge after Cota was “confused regarding the operation of the electronic chart system upon which he chose to rely including the meaning of two red triangles that marked buoys marking the tower of the bridge that he eventually hit.”

The damage to the bridge, vessel and the economic impact to individuals was tens of millions of dollars. The clean-up cost for the bay exceeded $70 million. Numerous Brown Pelicans and Marbled Murrelets, two birds currently on the endangered species, were also killed because of Cota’s negligence. U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello hopes the court’s sentence of Cota will serve as “a deterrent to shipping companies and mariners who think violating the environmental laws that protect the waterways will go undetected or unpunished.”

Published on:

The fishing vessel MAR-GUN issued a mayday call early this morning, reporting they were aground half a mile from St. George Island, Alaska. The five-member crew aboard the 112-foot Seattle based stern trawler were hoisted to safety by a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. Weather at the scene was reported to be 57 mile per hour winds with 5-6 foot seas. No injuries were initially reported, and the accident will be investigated by the United States Coast Guard.

This is the second close call for an Alaska fishing boat in the past week. The ICY MIST went aground on Akutan Island on February 25th. Quick rescue action by the Coast Guard has been instrumental in saving the crews of the MAR-GUN and ICY MIST. Tragically, the first anniversary of the sinking of the ALASKA RANGER will be marked on March 23rd.

Contact Information