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USCG and NTSB probe OSG tanker allision with Bay Bridge

Written by Nick Blenkey

Josg reymar damageANUARY 9, 2013 — An allision Monday between the 752-foot Marshall Islands registered tanker Overseas Reymar and tower six of the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay is being investigated by both the Coast Guard and the NTSB.

The Coast Guard says that from an initial review of radio traffic “we know that the VTS warned the ship prior to the allision.”

And the NTSB says that it will be reviewing the circumstances the accident “in light of the safety recommendations made following the Cosco Busan accident” in 2007.

While the Cosco Busan spilled thousands of gallons of fuel into San Francisco Bay, there were no reports of pollution from the Overseas Raymar, which is owned by OSG, though as a precautionary measure, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port of San Francisco ordered pollution-control boom to be staged.

The vessel was immediately directed to an anchorage area just west of Alcatraz Island by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port.

The double-hulled ship, which was in ballast at the time of the incident, sustained damage to its starboard quarter..The Coast Guard is continuing to investigate a Monday allision by the Overseas Reymar with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

As of yesterday ship remained anchored in Anchorage 7, just west of Treasure Island, where it was ordered to remain by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port shortly after the incident. Coast Guard vessel inspectors and other maritime experts are still assessing the damage to the ship to determine what repairs may be required before it will be allowed to sail.

The Coast Guard is conducting a Marine Casualty Investigation in accordance with federal regulations.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be conducting its own investigation of the incident.

Coast Guard and NTSB investigators work together wherever possible during the fact finding and analysis stages of marine accident investigations to avoid duplication of effort, but each agency may publish its own final report to satisfy different regulatory requirements. Investigators will look at all possible causes and factors that may have contributed to the allision. Interviews and the collection of other evidence are ongoing.

The Coast Guard investigation of the incident is in its initial stages:

The Coast Guard notes that investigations require interviews, technical analyses, ship and hull inspections, a review of all records and typically requires several months to complete.

Drug and alcohol tests for the pilot, master, and key crew members have been conducted. The alcohol test results are negative. The drug test results are not yet available.

The Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) communicates with all large commercial ships moving through the bay and was in contact with the Overseas Reymar Monday morning. Audio recordings of radio traffic and other evidence are part of the ongoing investigation and are not releasable until the investigation is complete.

“After initial review of these conversations, however, we know that the VTS warned the ship prior to the allision,” the Coast Guard said yesterday.

Coast Guard investigators have completed initial interviews with the pilot, master, and key crew members.

The National Transportation Safety Board, meantime, named Barry Strauch as the investigator-in-charge of its investiation. Mr. Strauch will coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard, which classified the accident as a “major marine casualty,” because the incident exceeded the threshold of more than $500,000 in property damage.

The NTSB notes that it investigated a similar accident in 2007, when the container ship Cosco Busan hit the Bay Bridge and spilled thousands of gallons of fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay. In the Cosco Busan accident, the NTSB determined that a medically unfit pilot, an ineffective master, and poor communications between the two were the cause of the accident. Investigators will be reviewing the circumstances of Monday’s accident in light of the safety recommendations made following the Cosco Busan accident.

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