More than 22,700 litres of diesel fuel spilled into Alaska’s Prince William Sound – the very same spot as the infamous Exxon Valdez disaster – because the captain of a tugboat was playing video games while the ship ran aground, says the Coast Guard.
The Pathfinder, a “safety-escort” tug, was returning to port after an ice-scouting mission on December 23, 2009 when it crashed against Bligh Reef, the same reef that gashed open the Valdez in 1989. Capt. Eugene Monsen made a number of errors, according to a Coast Guard investigation, from changing course without knowing the vessel’s precise location, to increased speed and improper communication, to, finally, playing card games on his PC with his back turned to the bridge. Think about that next time you’re screwing around with freecell at work.
“The fact that he went to the computer to play video games after a course change further aggravates the situation and amplifies the lack of attention on the bridge between the master and second mate,” the report read. “Games, music, phone calls to far-away family are a strong temptation and could easily distract a ship’s officer from maintaining a proper lookout.”
Monsen was, of course, dismissed following the incident.