Tugboat Master Refuses Coast Guard Alcohol Testing After Striking Pier in Martinez

San Francisco, Calif. – U. S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco is investigating an incident involving a tugboat hitting a refinery pier in Martinez early this morning. Investigators are conducting interviews and gathering information to try to determine the cause of the incident.

When Coast Guard investigators arrived at the scene they were not satisfied with the alcohol testing that had already been conducted by the marine employer. Testing equipment used by the marine employer appeared to be out of date, so Coast Guard investigators decided to conduct their own breathalyzer tests. Two of the three crewman voluntarily submitted to breathalyzer testing but the Master did not.

Despite the complications with the alcohol testing, Coast Guard investigators will thoroughly explore all aspects of the incident to determine the cause. Proper alcohol testing is required to be completed within two hours of an incident unless safety considerations dictate an extension.

Drug testing is required to be performed within 32 hours. Coast Guard officials will also oversee those tests to ensure they are done properly.

Coast Guard Marine Casualty investigations are conducted under 46 CFR Part 4. They can take between several weeks to over a year to conduct depending on the complexity of the incident under investigation.

“The Coast Guard, state and local agencies, Tesoro Refinery response crews and cleanup workers reacted quickly to this incident,” Captain David Swatland, Deputy Sector Commander at Sector San Francisco, said. “Their fast response helped maintain the safety and security of the facility and surrounding waterways,” he said.

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