VALDEZ, Alaska -- The captain of the Exxon Valdez tried to rock his tanker free for more than an hour despite gashes in the hull and oil spilling into the water, according to radio transcripts released Tuesday.
'Captain (Joseph) Hazelwood reported his craft was torn up and in danger of sinking,' Coast Guard Cmdr. Steve McCall told United Press International.
McCall was on the radio with Hazelwood shortly after the early morning March 24 collision. 'I warned him to stay cool.'
'The captain didn't sound drunk,' McCall said. 'I didn't notice any slurring of words. But he obviously seemed worried, concerned.'
In other developments, state officials disclosed the spillage totaled 11.2 million gallons instead of 10.1 million as originally reported.
'Exxon was the first to use the figure of 240,000 barrels (10.1 million gallons),' said Bill Lamoreux, on-the-scene coordinator for the state.
'But results we were able to tabulate from professional gauging firms present during the unloading put the total at 268,000 barrels (11.2 million gallons.)
'We did not get our results until after Exxon had released its data.'
Exxon had no immediate comment.
Meanwhile, wildlife officials set off fireworks, shotguns and propane torches along western shores of Prince William Sound to scare migratory birds to safety. Aviators were warned to avoid non-oiled areas to encourage wildlife to land.
An estimated 20 million migratory waterfowl are due to arrive in the sound in late April and early May, including one-fifth of the world's trumpeter swans.
'We set out some flares and blasted away with noisemakers,' said David McGillivary, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 'We hope to do more later when the weather clears.'
Heavy snow and gale-force winds blasted the Gulf of Alaska Tuesday, disrupting skimming activities and forcing cleanup crews to protective bays and inlets.
'Welcome to Valdez,' said Dennis Kelso, the state's top environmental officer. 'The stuff that's coming down is typical of weather this time of year, despite what Exxon hopes.'
Kelso and others have criticized Exxon's cleanup proposal which assumes a pattern of mostly good weather through late September.
Although overflights were limited, officials said fresh oil was spotted on island beaches south of Kenai Peninsula and about 300 miles west of the original spill.
'We've seen some wide scattering in that area and we've hardly begun to check,' said Lamoreaux.
Transcripts of the March 24 radio traffic between McCall and Hazelwood -- old friends who went to the same merchant marine academy - indicated the skipper tried to free the tanker despite warnings additional oil was spilling.
'(We're) leaking oil and we're going to be here for a while,' said Hazelwood. The message was received 23 minutes after the ship ran aground.
Forty minutes after the first message, Hazelwood reported the ship was gunning engines to try to push itself off the rock.
'We're working our way off the reef,' he said. 'We've, ah, the vessel has been holed and we're ascertaining, right now, we're trying just to get her off the reef and we'll be back to you as soon as possible.'
McCall said he urged the skipper to 'take it easy' and cautioned about the potential for a big spill.
'Before you make any drastic attempt to get away, make sure you don't, you know, start doing any ripping,' McCall said. 'I wouldn't recommend doing much wiggling.'
The conversation ended after 90 minutes. By then the ship had at least eight large holes, the biggest 24-feet in diameter.