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Tugboat in Mississippi River Oil Spill Repeatedly Warned of Danger

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Both the pilot of the tanker Tintamara and a Coast Guard controller warned the tugboat Mel Oliver that it was in danger of colliding with the massive tanker in the moments before last month’s Mississippi River oil spill.   According to radio transmissions released by the Coast Guard, no one on the tugboat the Mel Oliver bothered responding to the warnings.

“Mel Oliver, come in cap, you’re crossing the bottom of a ship coming at you,” a Coast Guard traffic controller says.

As the pilot of the Tintamara becomes increasingly distressed, he makes repeated calls to the captain of the Mel Oliver. “This ain’t good, man,” the pilot says. Then, at the moment of impact, he says, “We just took his tow. The barge is right in front of us and we’re running it over.”

According to results of the Coast Guard’s preliminary investigation, the captain o the Mel Oliver made no reply to he warnings because he was not aboard at the time.  As reported earlier, no one on the Mel Oliver at the time of the collision with the Tintamara was properly licensed to pilot a tugboat.

According to the Coast Guard, there were no mechanical or electrical problems with the massive Tintamara, or questions about it’s pilot’s competency. The tugboat is currently being inspected for mechanical or electrical problems.

The Mel Oliver, pushing a barge loaded with more than 400,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil, collided with the tanker Tintamara on July 23, causing the worst oil spill New Orleans has seen in a decade.  The barge, which has continued to leak oil since the spill, was finally secured over the weekend. Securing the barge has allowed crews to begin removing remaining oil from the vessel. Once the oil is extracted, cranes will be brought in to break up the wreckage and the remains of the vessel will be hauled away on barges.

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