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Coast Guard continues investigation into bridge crash

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Updated: 9/30/2013 11:47 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Investigators with the Coast Guard remain docked just feet from the USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin. It's likely they aren't going anywhere any time soon.

"To determine what was the causitive factor or what were some of the causitive factors," said Petty Officer Lauren Jorgensen. "It's possible that a person or company may be found to be responsible."

According to Coast Guard policy, all crew members with Moran Towing and the ship were drug tested within 32 hours. Alcohol testing is mandatory within two hours of the incident.

The Coast Guard has not released the results.

Jorgensen says all crew members have been interviewed and are cooperating with the investigation.

Action News has learned local investigators looking into the ship's crash with the Mathews Bridge will take several months before handing off their findings to headquarters in Washington DC. The investigation isn't expected to be complete for at least one year.

While the Coast Guard remains tight-lipped about its investigation, Action News spoke with Jay Powell, a former Navy navigator on the USS Yorktown.

Powell now teaches at Bluewater Maritime School off North Main Street in Jacksonville. He plans to use Thursday's crash as a teaching tool in the classroom.

Powell shared what goes into the calculated plans prior to moving a ship like the Harry L. Martin.

"The captain gets the draft report," said Powell. "We know how much water we're pushing. We know how high we're sitting in the water."

These plans are required to ensure the ship will pass clearance under a bridge.

But Powell said something went wrong in the planning Thursday. That's now left for Coast Guard investigators to figure out.

The towing company, Moran Towing, filed a plan with the Coast Guard known as a "dead ship plan" before moving the Harry L. Martin.

Because Coast Guard approval of the plan isn't required, Action News reporter Ryan Smith asked Petty Officer Jorgensen about oversight to prevent another incident between a ship versus bridge.

"The people who operate the tugs are Coast Guard licensed captains," said Jorgensen. "There's regulation that they are required to follow to be Coast Guard licensed captains and that's one of the things we're going to be looking at with the investigation if they were following those regulations properly."
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daisy - 10/1/2013 1:56 AM
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I THINK THAT MORAN TOWING IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR HITTING THE MATTHEWS BRIDGE I CALLED THEM UP AND THEY ACTED LIKE THEY DIDN'T CARE. WWW.MORANTOWING.COM IS THERE WEBSITE AND THEY ARE LOCATED ON DAMES POINTE ROAD. I THINK THEY SHOULD BE BOYCOTTED!!!!
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