Exxon Valdez

I guess the last chapter has been written with the passing of Joe Hazelwood.
I worked the oil spill running a tug at Naked Island for the first summer after the spill. We used to joke that Capt. Joe created more jobs in one day than the Governor did in eight years!
I was always amazed when i would look out and see old tugs and surplus military vessels that I knew were sunk or abandoned in their previous life show up to rake in the big money Exxon was paying.
Almost everything was free to those working the spill. Cigarettes, groceries (meals), and fuel among other items. I almost felt sorry for Exxon being raped for the spill even though it was their fault and liability for the entire mess.


Last I heard Exxon still had a building in Houston full of lawyers working on the case.

I was up there for the spill response as well.
Some other examples of the huge waist of resources were:
Some of the kids running 16 foot aluminium skiffs to set and retrieve containment booms would pull up about ten feet of the yellow poly anchor rode, then cut it and abandon the anchor (40 pound Danforth), and the remainder of the rode. They’d just go get six more anchors and rodes for the next boom move. Those anchors and rodes are still littered on the seafloor all over Prince William Sound.
Another waste was these same skiff operators were too lazy to stop and disconnect the boom connection when transiting outside the booms (such as running over to the supply vessel for some cigarettes, Carhart coveralls, steaks or toothpaste) so they would just gun it, and attempt to tilt the 40 HP outboard as thet ran over the boom. If not done just right, they would break the propeller shear pin. The would get a tow over to the barge that had an outboard motor shop, and just replace the motor with a brand new unit.
I sent the deckhand over to the supply vessel to grab four steaks and four cartons of cigarettes. He came back with a huge rib-eye roast (about 10 steaks) and a case (144 cartons) of cigarettes.
One of the vessels that I rode each day to my work location from the berthing barge was a privately owned purse seiner vessel operated by a father/daughter crew. One day we saw the daughter open the fish hold hatch to get out a case of paper towels. Also stored in the hold were at least 10 brand new 40 HP Johnson outboard motors.
Etcetera etcetera!

What happened to Exxon Valdez??:

I said a bud light, not a hard right !!

From article: “Yet Hazelwood went below… leaving an unlicensed third mate in charge.” :joy:

I stopped reading after that.


Anyone who has done a Bridge Resource Mgmt class knows that Hazelwood was made to be the scapegoat, as Master he was ultimately responsible, but it sounds like the error chain began with VTS and his 3rd mate.

He should have skipped the bar that night in any case.


The “unlicensed” part is referring to the fact that Cousins did not have pilotage for Prince William Sound (Hazelwood did). We all take it to mean that the implication is that he wasn’t licensed at all (which is obviously not true) but most of the general public isn’t going to know those distinctions. Regardless, Cousins was not legally allowed to be the sole officer on the bridge that night.

Thread here.

I also recall many saying that the AB Kagan had no business being an AB or helmsman on any ship to begin with. Someone familiar with him once told me if you ordered “left 10,” he’d turn the helm until the indicator showed left ten, then promptly midship the wheel. He was that incompetent.


That is exactly what he did on EV according to the report.


Exxon’s HR put the crew on the ship and the Coast guard allowed HR to put a minimum number being that the ship was fully automated so didnt really need anyone. Lawrence G. Rawl lol.
Captain doesn’t issue CoC’s or employ anyone.
Captain just the scapegoat


Wonder if he ever sailed again after that… or is even still alive.

Very sure Kagen never sailed again - very sure never with Exxon again

From a 1997 article: Robert Kagan, the only crew member on the bridge that night to receive no penalties, lives in Louisiana, having negotiated retirement from Exxon. (“He’s been an emotional wreck since the spill,” his wife says.)

From same article: Helmsman Kagan, when ordered to make the turn, did not execute it fully. Kagan earned the nickname Rain Man during the criminal trial for mixing up his right and left and for muttering to himself during cross-examination, “Why is he asking me that? I wish he wouldn’t ask me that.” Employment records showed that Kagan required “constant supervision.” “I put a lot of it on Kagan,” says Paul Larson, who led the Coast Guard investigation. “He does his job, and we’re talking about something else today.”

Pretty sure someone (maybe it was on the forums some time ago) mentioned that before the spill they wanted him to remain an OS, presumably where he’d be less of a problem/liability but the shoreside folks forced them to promote him.

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Participation trophy mentality at work with the office dweebs. The boy never caused trouble so promote him already.

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According to the other thread he was a messman, then they cut that position so he became an OS, then they cut that position so he had to become an AB or become unemployed.

The captain doesn’t go to the wheelhouse at random times, it a matter of evaluating the risk in any given situation. Staying in the wheelhouse for another 5 or 10 minutes during a maneuver in a relatively difficult situation, at night, fatigue etc. should be though of as standard procedure on any ship.

The specific scenario is to a large degree irrelevant. It’s like keeping the emergency diesel generator ready to go at all times. Any one specific chain of events that leads to the EDG starting up and taking the load, viewed after the event, is going to seem very unlikely.

Doesn’t mean it’s never going to be needed.

Pretty sure none of us would like to be known for the worst moment of our life. Joe publicly handled it with humility and grace. And I understand that privately it was a real challenge.

The incident has been beat to death for decades now.

What I hope Joe took out of it in his last days was - he handled the aftermath of event as well as anyone could have, and it was the impetus that lead to many changes that made transportation of oil by water safer. If you believe we all have a purpose - maybe that was his.

RIP Joe and hopefully no one is talking about Valdez to you anymore.