U.S. Coast Guard boards vessel suspected of damaging subsea pipeline

Robert Tuttle 10/18/2021

CALGARY (Bloomberg) --The U.S. Coast Guard boarded a container ship that dragged its anchor near to a Southern California subsea pipeline that was the source of an oil spill earlier this month.

Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigators boarded MSC Danit on Saturday in the Port of Long Beach, according to a release from the agency.

In stormy weather on Jan. 25, the ship dragged its anchor in close proximity to the pipeline which was the source of a major oil spill off Orange County this month that forced the closure of beaches and sullied wetlands. The Coast Guard has designated MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, operator of the vessel, and Dordellas Finance Corp., its owner, as “parties in interest” to the investigation. An email to Mediterranean Shipping sent Saturday for comment wasn’t returned.

The growth of marine life around the breach in the Amplify Energy Corp. pipeline indicated that an anchor dragged by the line a while ago, rather than recently, U.S. Coast Guard officials said last week, adding that they were looking at Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 as dates of interest because of a large storm at that time. A total of 24 ships pulled anchor and sailed into open ocean due to the rough conditions.

The Danit was in the correct anchorage location on Jan. 18 but, on Jan. 25, it started to drift to the east and crossed the pipeline multiple times that morning before heading offshore toward Catalina Island, according to John Amos, president of SkyTruth, which used AIS ship tracking data from exactEarth to research ships in the area.

“Amplify Energy remains focused on environmental remediation efforts as a part of the Unified Command and cooperating with all regulatory requirements and investigations,” the pipeline operator said in a statement Sunday.

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