As expected, the US NTSB has concluded
that pilot error caused the Liberian tanker Julie N
to ram a brige pier and spill 170,000 gallons (578 tons)
of fuel oil in Portland Maine on 27 September 1996.
However, NTSB investigators also say the narrow draw
of Portland's Million dollar bridge left the pilot
little margin for error, and inadequate fenders
protecting the pier made the spill worse,
The bridge has since been demolished,
says Charles Serioiudom, senior investigator
of the USCG's MSO in Portland.
"The probable cause of the collion ...
was pilot's inadvertant order to port rudder
instead of starboard rudder",
according to a summary of the NTSB report
released on 5 May.
"He recognized his error within seconds
and ordered the rudder to hard starboard;
given the narrowness of the span, however,
the shifting of the rudder occurred to late to avoid
the collision,: the report states.
The accident ripped a 10 m gash in the tanker
below its waterline, rupturing a cargo tank
and a bunker tank.