The U.S. Coast Guard issued a “party in interest” designation to the owner and operator of a second containership that it is investigating regarding the oil spill off Southern California last month.
his notice begins a legal process providing the owner and operate a structure to respond to potential charges.
Now, on November 18, NTSB investigators boarded a 15-year old containership named Beijing that is among the vessels currently in the Long Beach, California anchorage.
Before the visit to the vessel, USCG determined that the Beijing was involved in a January 25, 2021, anchor-dragging incident during a heavy weather event that affected the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The anchor-dragging incident took place near a subsea pipeline, which was discovered to be the source of the Orange County oil spill on October 2, 2021.
As a result, USCG designated the V.Ships Greece Ltd., the operator of the vessel, and Capetanissa Maritime Corporation of Liberia, the owner of the vessel, as parties in interest to the marine casualty investigation.
USCG also reported that the party in interest designation provides the owner and operator of the Beijing the opportunity to be represented by counsel, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to call witnesses who are relevant to the investigation.
The San Pedro Bay Pipeline spill occurred in October 2021, releasing an estimated 25,000-130,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean off Orange County. Numerous vessels were initially investigated but cleared of involvement.
A month ago, the U.S. Coast Guard also designated the MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the operator of the MSC Danit, and Dordellas Finance Corporation, the owner of the MSC Danit, as the first party in interest related to the spill.
This is because investigators said that an ROV inspection of the pipeline after the spill indicated that a 4,000-foot section of pipe had been displaced by approximately 100 feet resulting in a break in the line’s concrete outer casing.
The investigators believe that the displacement may have been caused by ship’s anchor. Reviewing data from the San Pedro Bay’s Marine Exchange VTS, the investigators identified vessels that had been in the area that they believed warranted further investigation.
As of now multiple pipeline scenarios and additional vessels of interest are to be investigated.