Saturday, April 02, 2005
Captain K.B. Singh is headed home, back to India after pleading guilty to lying to both the National Transportation safety commission and the US Coast Guard about what caused the troubles aboard the Selendang Ayu. "The Captain has now admitted that he lied to investigators when they first questioned him about this case,” says Tim Burgess, the US attorney. The 738-foot freighter carrying soybeans was heading from Seattle to China when it ran aground, split in half, near Unalaska. It was carrying about 440,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel and 21,000 gallons of diesel, and much of IT went INTO the ocean. "Thousands of gallons of oil were discharged and it's cargo of soy beans were also discharged,” says Burgess. As the case unfolds, Officials confirmed in court, the Captain of the ship lied to investigators. "More than that the Captain instructed crew members, 18 of them to lie to investigators as they were trying to get to the bottom of the facts of this case,” says Burgess. The lie was centered on a bigger issue that government officials are trying solving called "pocket miles." Pocket miles are miles that crews inaccurately report, so they can put miles in the bank, The Captain admitted that was at the heart of his lie. "Rather than accurately disclose when he turned the engines off in this case, he relied on the pocket miles that he had entered into the ship's log,” says Burgess. Another important issue discussed at today's legal proceedings was that the captain did not notify the coast guard immediately after the boat ran into problems, and waited until the next morning. But they do not know yet, if that could have prevented the magnitude of the disaster. "We don't know that and it certain under investigation,” says Admiral James Olson, with the Commander 17th Coast Guard. Sign did plead guilty today to a felony. The judge also informed the captain he could still be held accountable if future charges arise. Sign was sentenced to three years probation, and did apologize to the Judge for his actions.