Es un accidente que prometía un interesante NTSB, dejando a un lado la investigación que ha montado por su cuenta Arnol «chauacheneger», poco a poco van saliendo algunos datos, bien es cierto, que de lo que publican algunos a la realidad hay trecho, pero para abrir boca no está nada mal.
(11-15) 15:09 PST San Francisco – — Coast Guard workers who monitor ship traffic in San Francisco Bay did not warn the crew of the Cosco Busan that it was about to sideswipe the base of a Bay Bridge tower last week, or even that the ship was near the obstacle, federal investigators said Thursday.
The National Transportation Safety Board reported that in the minutes before the Nov. 7 crash and resulting 58,000-gallon fuel spill, operators at the Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service asked pilot John Cota where he was heading.
The operators noticed that the ship was moving parallel to the bridge in heavy fog, straying from its course under the span. They believed that Cota intended to remain to the south of the bridge.
But after Cota radioed back that he indeed intended to pilot the ship under the bridge, the Coast Guard radio operators had no communication with him for about two minutes, after which the ship hit the tower, safety board member Debbie Hersman said.
«They tried to limit the communications with the pilot during what they perceived as a critical maneuver,» Hersman said.
Coast Guard officials said there was no evidence that their operators acted improperly.
The officials stressed that the Vessel Traffic Service advises but does not give orders to pilots and that the service’s priority is to make sure the crews of all vessels on the bay are aware of each other.
That is why the Coast Guard operators were interested in whether the Cosco Busan’s intended route out of Oakland had changed.
«They were right in inquiring,» said Capt. Paul Gugg, who is leading the spill response. «I shouldn’t speculate on whether they should have gone further.»
Whether the operators’ actions were proper will require further examination, safety board officials said. «That certainly will be part of our investigation,» National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.
The pilot’s maneuver went disastrously wrong when the ship scraped the bridge, creating a hole in the hull. The spill spread, and in the days to come it fouled dozens of miles of lagoons, beaches and oceanfront, killing hundreds of birds and infuriating citizens and politicians from the Bay Area to Washington, D.C.
In a statement released Thursday by his attorney, Cota added details to his account of what happened before the ship hit the bridge.
He said he had intended to pass beneath a span known as D-E, a common route for ships departing from Oakland.
«As we approached the bridge,» he said, «I received a radio call from Vessel Traffic Service saying I was on a (southwesterly course parallel to the bridge) and asking what my intentions were.» He said his instruments showed him heading northwest, which would have taken him under the span.
«However,» Cota said, «the closer we came to the bridge, the more the picture on both radars deteriorated. The radar presentation, in fact, deteriorated to such an extent that the (radar beacon) at the center of the bridge was not showing on all of the radars, nor were the towers, the bridge piers and the buoys which indicated the towers.»
Cota said the ship’s radar systems failed him, but the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that the ship had two independent radar systems, suggesting that it was unlikely that both would stop functioning at the same time. The board also said it had tested the radar systems and found nothing wrong.
Cota’s attorney, John Meadows, said earlier that radar failure caused Cota to rely on electronic navigational charts. He said that Cota asked the ship’s captain to point on the chart to the center of the span but that the captain pointed to something that turned out to be the tower.