Tug Captain Testifies on Oil Spill

Dec 18, 2008

There's new testimony in the Coast Guard investigation of July's oil spill in the Mississippi River. After initially declining to participate in the hearings, the tugboat captain who was missing after the collision has now taken the stand. He explains why he left the vessel to drive to Illinois.

Captain Terry Carver appeared in the New Orleans federal courthouse, telling investigators he left his vessel, the Mel Oliver, after getting a phone call from his nephew, saying he'd seen Carver's girlfriend driving in a truck with another man.

Carver decided to head back to Illinois to check it out for himself. While he was gone, he left apprentice John Bavaret in charge. Under his watch, the Mel Oliver pushed an oil barge into the path of a tanker. About 280,000 gallons of oil spilled from the barge into the river, closing it to traffic for six days.

Carver testified that it was not unusual for the apprentice to take charge of the vessel, even though he did not have proper license. The Coast Guard will ultimately determine the blame for the collision.