U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigators Friday identified a cargo ship named “Beijing” as a vessel involved in an “anchor-dragging incident” in January that may have contributed to the October oil leak off the coast of Huntington Beach.
Investigators boarded the vessel Thursday at the Port of Long Beach.
According to the Coast Guard, investigators determined the ship “was involved in a January 25, 2021, anchor-dragging incident during a heavy weather event that impacted the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.” The anchor-dragging occurred “in close proximity” to an underwater pipeline later determined to be the source of the October leak that spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, forcing the closure of beaches and harbors across Orange County.
Beijing’s owner, Capetanissa Maritime Corp. of Liberia, and operator, V.Ships Greece Ltd., have been named “parties in interest” in the investigation, a designation that allows the companies to hire attorneys and examine witnesses in the probe of the spill’s cause.
In mid-October, the owner and operator of another ship, the MSC DANIT, were also named “parties in interest” in the investigation, also due to an “anchor-dragging incident” on Jan. 25 near the pipeline.
Authorities said earlier that the underwater pipeline had been dragged out of position, possibly by a ship’s anchor. The subsequent rupture in the pipe was discovered at the point where the pipeline had been dragged.
The rupture caused a leak estimated at about 25,000 gallons.
Authorities said the investigation is continuing and “multiple pipeline scenarios and additional vessels of interest continue to be investigated.”