Portland Spirit captain suspended for Flugtag incident

News

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The captain of the Portland Spirit had his Merchant Mariner credentials suspended over an incident during the Red Bull Flugtag event in 2015.

An administrative law judge ruled Captain Lowell Gillespie Jr. violated a rule when he didn’t take “appropriate actions to avoid a collision.”

Around 3 p.m. on Aug. 1, 2015, the US Coast Guard revoked the permit for Red Bull’s Flutag event along the waterfront and Willamette River. The Coast Guard was notified by the Portland Spirit and Capt.Gillespie that commercial vessels were being blocked by personal boat traffic at the event.

There were an estimated 500 boats anchored together. In its permit for the event, organizers with Red Bull reported they expected only 100 boats. The Coast Guard said Red Bull had the responsibility to keep the waterways open, which it failed to do.

The Coast Guard, however, also determined that the Portland Spirit failed to act to avoid a collision.

Gillespie appealed those findings from October 2016.

But Administrative Law Judge George Jordan ruled for the Coast Guard. Gillespie, the judge said, “should have recognized the likelihood of a large number of vessels impeding his normal route.”

Gillespie was suspended immediately for one month and will be on probation for a year. He has 60 days to appeal this ruling to the Commandant of the US Coast Guard.

Gillespie has not yet responded to a request for comment from KOIN 6 News.

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