News Column

Ship Captain Seeks License After Oil Spill

Feb 11, 2013

Ship captain John Cota, blamed for a 2007 oil spill in San Francisco Bay, is suing the U.S. Coast Guard to get his mariner's license reinstated.

Cota, 65, served 10 months in prison for water-pollution violations after investigators determined he was impaired by prescription drugs, ignored safety precautions and sailed his ship too fast for weather conditions when the cargo ship Cosco Busan crashed into a tower of the Bay Bridge.

The fuel spill from a gash in the ship's hull deposited oil on 69 miles of coastline, closed fisheries and killed over 6,800 birds, the San Jose, Calif., Mercury News reported Monday.

He retired in 2008 rather than surrender his ship pilot's license, and his other credential, a merchant marine license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, expired in 2010. After a series of appeals the Coast Guard issued a final denial of the license in February 2012, the newspaper said.

Cota alleges his civil rights and right to due process were denied in a lawsuit, filed Friday in Oakland, Calif., federal district court, against the Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard Commandant Robert J. Papp Jr., court documents said.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2013

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