US Coast Guard investigates MSC Danit in Huntington oil spill case

October 27, 2021 Maritime Safety News

On Saturday 16th Oct, the US Coast Guard investigation team boarded cargo vessel MSC DANIT in Long Beach to look for evidence in the Orange County oil spill case. The investigation team suspects that MSC DANIT may have struck the San Pedro Bay pipeline in January 2021 which led to a chain of events resulting in the spill of estimated 25,000-130,000 gallons of crude oil into the sea near Orange County. FleetMon reported on the oil spill in early October.

The theory believed by the investigators is that the underwater pipeline was hooked by an anchor of a large vessel and then the 4000-foot section of the pipe was dragged over a distance of 100 feet, ultimately breaking off the concrete outer casing of the line. Convinced with the proposed theory, Captain Jason Neubauer said that ROV inspection has suggested that the anchor strike must have occurred months ago or even a year in the past. His investigation team has focused on an unusual storm that had hit the area on January 24-25 this year which led to a lot of vessel management activity at the Marine Exchange VTS of San Pedro Bay.

In the press release, Coast Guard has said that investigators determined that MSC DANIT had dragged the anchor on January 25 during the heavy weather event. With its huge size and massive deadweight, the vessel fits in the Coast Guard’s suspected vessel’s criteria.

FleetMon’s AIS vessel tracking data shows the giant container vessel, MSC DANIT to be moving erratically over the pipeline while anchored off the Port of Long Beach on January 24-25, 2021. The vessel had then departed to the west, away from the high winds along the east coast of Catalina Island.

Vessel owner Dordellas Finance Corporation and vessel operator Mediterranean Shipping Company have been designated as “parties in interest” to the marine casualty investigation. Now the involved companies can cross-examine witnesses, retain lawyers and call their witnesses to support the inquiry. In the case, multiple damage scenarios are still being explored and additional vessels of interest are under investigation.