More in the trend to make working commercial mariners into criminals..
Yes, it was a very serious oil spill from a lawfully anchored supertanker, which was lawfully at anchor when hit by a drifting crane barge whose two tugs had lost control of the barge in really bad weather. There's likely nothing the tanker could've done to "get out of the way", it just doesn't work that way with ships of that size.
So who, along with the tug and barge captains, gets indicted by the South Korean authorities? The master and mate of the tanker HEBEI SPIRIT, that's who.
Maybe we'll learn more as things progress, but the regrettable trend by all countries (including the US) is to bring criminal charges first, and ask questions later.
Anyone wonder why a career at sea in the merchant marine isn't attractive to young people? You're sitting at anchor, get hit, and next thing you know you're in jail, or out on bail.
Yes, in cases of intentional pollution, it's justified. But too often where there's an accident (and a spill, which gets the publicity), the bureaucrats ashore are very quick to make it into a criminal charge, detain crewmembers for months (even years). Not a risk that professional mariners will want to take, it seems to me.
Moderators, bump this to another forum if you want, but that's my rant for the time being. The "criminilization of seafarers" is definitely a problem. Theoretically, the same attitude could affect "rag sailors" who find themselves in an accident, whether in the US or elsewhere.