The captain of a research ship that ran aground and damaged a federally protected coral reef off the Florida Keys said he cannot remember what happened immediately before or during the Aug. 11 incident.

Capt. Michael Dick told investigators that he only remembers "coming to" once the ship Columbus Iselin was hard aground, said Donald Heinrichs of the National Science Foundation.Crew members said that during the roughly six minute period Dick can't remember, he repositioned the ship to back up toward the reef and let a seaman go outside, leaving him alone at the controls.

The grounding badly damaged one of the Keys' most delicate and prized coral reefs but didn't spill any fuel into the water. It caused up to $1 million in damage to the University of Miami research vessel.