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California in Brief |SAN FRANCISCO

Cargo ship pilot gives up license

December 22, 2007|Eric Bailey

The pilot of the cargo ship that sideswiped the Bay Bridge last month and spilled 58,000 gallons of fuel oil has given up his operating license, U.S. Coast Guard officials said Friday.

Capt. John J. Cota turned over his license in an administrative procedure. The veteran pilot is preparing to fight charges by shipping regulators that he is incompetent to safely pilot vessels in the bay.

The U.S. Coast Guard will hold Cota's license until the captain can prove that he is fit for full duty, authorities said. In the meantime, Cota cannot serve in any capacity as an officer or licensed mariner.

Cota was at the helm when the 900-foot Cosco Busan hit the base of a Bay Bridge tower, gashing the ship and dumping oil into the sea. The spill spread around the bay and outside the Golden Gate, blackening seabirds, briefly shutting down the fishery and prompting a massive clean-up that is still underway.

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-- Eric Bailey

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