The U.S. Coast Guard has boarded another vessel (the first was on Oct. 7) of interest that potentially dragged its anchor across an offshore pipeline in Southern California that eventually led to an oil spill off Huntington Beach on Oct. 2.
Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigators boarded container ship MSC DANIT, Saturday, in the Port of Long Beach, as a "party in interest" for a possible "anchor-dragging incident" earlier this year over the underwater pipeline that eventually led to the ruptured pipeline and more than 3,000 barrels of crude washing ashore on California's pristine beaches.
Investigators are examining an anchor-dragging incident in late January for two reasons. First marine growth around the Amplify Energy Corp. pipeline crack suggested the incident occurred many months ago. Second, MSC DANIT was near the undersea pipeline during a large storm on Jan. 25.
"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," a Coast Guard news release stated, adding that the agency has an ongoing investigation with "multiple pipeline scenarios and additional vessels of interest continue to be investigated."
Earlier this month, Coast Guard officials said a 4,000-foot section of the undersea pipeline was displaced by more than 100 feet.
"I am convinced that the initial event that deflected the pipeline was an anchor strike," Captain Jason Neubauer, chairman of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation, said at a press conference earlier this month. "If there was a small fracture initially, it must not have been leaking a great deal of oil."
This means that the pipeline might have initially been cracked and leaking for months but at insignificant amounts to be detected. What remains a mystery is what caused the pipeline to rupture.