Cosco Busan may be moved soon

A temporary repair plan for the Cosco Busan may be approved as early as today, allowing the tanker ship to relocate from the middle of the San Francisco Bay to a local shipyard, according to a spokesman for the Regal Stone Ltd., the company that owns the vessel.

The 900-foot container vessel has been anchored in the greasy waters of the San Francisco Bay since Wednesday, when the ship struck a tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and gashed a hole in the side, spilling 58,000 gallons of toxic bunker fuel into the bay. The gash has been capped, but the repairs were temporary.

Naval architects have been constructing a repair plan for the Cosco Busan that will provide the ship with enough strength to reach a farther destination to allow for permanent repairs, said Jim Lawrence, a spokesman for Regal Stone Ltd.

Once the U.S. Coast Guard approves the plan proposed by the naval architects, the Cosco Busan will move from its anchored spot in the bay to the Port of Oakland, according to Lawrence.

Repairs on the ship include placing stiffeners behind the hole and plates in front to cover the puncture “like a patch,” Lawrence said. In addition to repairs, the ship is undergoing a physical inspection to determine if any faulty equipment contributed to the vessel’s crash.

“When you have a marine accident, every nook and cranny will be examined and every stone will be turned over,” Lawrence said.

Because human error aboard the ship appears to be the cause of the crash, the U.S. Attorney General is conducting a federal criminal investigation as well, the Coast Guard reported.

Cosco Busan’s crewmembers, with the exception of Pilot John Cota, have remained on the ship since Wednesday because they lack the proper papers to enter the United States, according to Lawrence.

“The crew is not being detained; the ship is detained,” Lawrence said. “The crew is not allowed ashore because they could not clear customs.”

Six members of the Cosco Busan crew were subpoenaed, and their participation in the investigation is expected to take one to two days, according to Lawrence. No charges have been filed against Cota, Lawrence added.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney General’s office in San Francisco declined to comment on the criminal investigation.

— Bay City News

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