A state board of pilot commissioners filed misconduct charges today against Cosco Busan pilot Capt. John Cota for the Nov. 7 crash of the vessel that caused a 58,000-gallon oil spill in San Francisco Bay.
Cota was piloting the 900-foot container ship in dense fog early that morning when it struck the fendering system of a Bay Bridge tower, opening a gash in the ship's side.
The Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun charged Cota today with “having reason to doubt whether the ship could safely proceed under the prevailing circumstances and
proceeding on his course with insufficient information about the level of visibility along his intended route,” according to a statement from the board.
Cota is also charged with traveling at an excessive speed and “failing to make use of all available resources,” the board reported.
Cota could have made use of a tugboat that was tethered to the ship's stern, could have requested more information from the U.S. Coast Guard's Vessel Traffic Service, and could have given the ship's lookout better instructions, according to the board.
“The Board's Incident Review Committee has carried out a thorough investigation resulting in the charges filed today,” board president Knute Michael Miller said. “We will proceed judiciously to determine whether Capt. Cota was negligent and whether he should be allowed to continue piloting on San Francisco Bay,” he said.
If the allegations are found true, Cota could have his state pilot license suspended or revoked, the board reported.
The board temporarily suspended Cota's license on Nov. 30.
Cota now has 15 days to file a written response in his defense and to request a hearing.
A hearing before either the board or an administrative law judge could come as early as January, according to the board.
— Bay City News