USCG Investigates Vessel Suspected To Have Cracked Oil Pipeline With Anchor

On Saturday, the US Coast Guard had boarded a container vessel on the Long Beach (LB) Port that dragged its anchor near a subsea pipeline that eventually resulted in an oil spill off California’s Orange County.

The spill had released about 3,000 barrels of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, blackening the coastline, killing wildlife, and forcing officials to shut down the beaches south of Los Angeles (LA). Even though the outcome isn’t as worse as it was feared initially, it has rekindled the debate about offshore drilling in federal waters of the Pacific, that had miles of pipelines installed years ago.

As reported by Reuters, the Coast Guard has reportedly said that an investigation determined that MSC DANIT was involved in anchor-dragging amidst a heavy-weather event. The incident impacted LA and LB ports during January 2021.

Contractors remove oil near a marsh area in Huntington Beach, California
Image Credits: Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Brahm / U.S. Coast Guard District 11 PADET Los Angeles /

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the operator of The DANIT, is headquartered in Switzerland. It boasts a fleet of 600 ships and over 100,000 workers per company. Official marine traffic monitoring agencies have reported that The DANIT arrived in LB this weekend after completing its voyage in China.

The investigation into what caused the spill may result in civil penalties or criminal charges. However, neither has yet been announced. The probe may even continue for some months.

The Coast Guard said that the designation permits enterprises to be represented by the counsel, examine witnesses, and call the ones relevant for the investigation. The investigation also includes agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company had not responded right away to any request for comments. The Dordellas Finance Corporation, the shipowner, could also not be reached immediately for comment.

Representatives of Amplify, an oil and natural gas company, have not responded directly to any question about the hour-long delay between an alarm indicating a probable issue with the pipeline and it reporting a leakage to the federal authorities.

At least two other ships were boarded by the investigators earlier, who are thoroughly examining the logs maintained by the ship captains, engineers, voyage data recorders, and officers — equivalent to the black box used on an airplane.


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