US Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Braden Rostad, Chief of Investigations, Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach said that it had determined that the Panama-flag MSC Danit anchor-dragging incident during a heavy weather event that impacted the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on 25 January.
“The anchor-dragging incident occurred in close proximity to a subsea pipeline, which was subsequently discovered to be the source of the Orange County oil spill on October 2, 2021,” USCG said.
US Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) marine casualty investigators boarded the MSC Danit in the Port of Long Beach on Saturday.
MSC as the operators of the MSC Danit and Dordellas Finance Corporation, the owner of the vessel have been named as parties in interest to the marine casualty investigation under US federal regulations.
“The party in interest designations provide the owner and operator of the MSC Danit the opportunity to be represented by counsel, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to call witnesses who are relevant to the investigation,” the USCG said.
While the MSC Danit has been named investigators continue to comb through marine traffic data over an extended period prior to the October spill, and more vessels are being investigated.
“The Coast Guard marine casualty investigation into the Orange County oil pipeline major marine casualty remains ongoing. Multiple pipeline scenarios and additional vessels of interest continue to be investigated.”
The damage to the pipeline has killed sea life, polluted beaches, and closed down fishing in one of the world’s most litigious regions, causing serious concern for P&I insurers over potential liability.