Friday, December 19, 2008
The Captain of the tugboat involved in a massive oil spill on the Mississippi River in July testified Thursday. After first pleading Fifth Amendment and not wanting to testify in the Coast Guard hearings, the Captain of the tugboat Mel Oliver finally spoke out. Terry Carver was the assigned captain of the Mel Oliver when it crashed, but today he corroborated former testimony and said he was not on board at the time of the crash. He said he got off the boat three days before the crash after getting a phone call from his nephew in Illinois, who said he saw Carver’s girlfriend in a truck with another man. Hours after that call Carver got off of the boat and drove 12 hours to Illinois to see his girlfriend, saying he’d be back in two days.
Tugboat, Mel OliverHis departure left apprentice pilot John Bavaret in charge of the ship at the time of the crash, but Bavaret was not licensed to operate the vessel alone. However, Carver testified Thursday that Bavaret has captained other vessels in the past, and that no crew members had reported any problems to him in the 8-10 calls that he made while traveling to and from Illinois. He added that his employer, DRD Towing of Harvey, was aware that Bavaret did occasionally captain the ship. Carver admitted that back in the 1990s he had his Coast Guard license suspended for 14 months for marijuana use. The Coast Guard is expected to issue a report that could include some penalties for those involved, but that is forthcoming.