Coast Guard Completes First Day of Hearings in Port Arthur

PORT ARTHUR, Texas – The Coast Guard concluded the first day of formal hearings, Tuesday, concerning the Jan. 23, 2010, incident that involving the tank vessel Eagle Otome, the Gull Arrow and the tug Dixie Vengeance.

The incident resulted in more than 400,000 gallons of oil being spilled into the Sabine-Neches waterway.

Summary:

  • The Coast Guard introduced 14 exhibits.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board introduced one exhibit.
  • Vessel Traffic Service Training Director Scott Whalen testified and answered questions after an audio recording of ship-to-ship radio communication between the Eagle Otome and the Dixie Vengeance was played.
  • Pallava Shukla, master of the Eagle Otome, testified to his personal experience and rest history. He also discussed the status of the vessel’s equipment and weather conditions during the transit up to the point of the accident.
  • A.T.K.M. Shahjalall, chief engineer of the Eagle Otome, testified concerning the status of the ships machinery before and after the incident. He reported no alarms other than the emergency stop alarm sounded and that the ship’s systems were performing satisfactorily after the incident.
  • Captain Charles Bancroft, the Sabine pilot who had control of the ship at the time of the incident, testified to his rest, maritime experience and training. He also spoke about weather conditions and visibility. The master-to-pilot exchange was also discussed.

The hearing is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m., Wednesday, but will be closed to the media and the public until midday.

The purpose of this investigation is to develop conclusions and recommendations that will improve vessel and waterway safety. The facts collected at this hearing along with the lead investigator’s conclusions and recommendations will be forwarded to Coast Guard Eighth District in New Orleans and Coast Guard Headquarters for approval. Once approved, the final investigative report will be made available to the public and the media. No analysis or conclusions will be presented during the hearing. The National Transportation Safety Board will generate an independent report on this incident.

The initial report of the collision and oil spill can be found here.

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