A train engineer who intentionally ran a train off the tracks at full speed toward a hospital ship at the Port of Los Angeles has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, has also been ordered to pay $755,880 in restitution, according to US authorities.

The incident took place in early 2020 when the USNS Mercy was deployed to California to provide medical relief during the early months of the Covid pandemic.

No one was injured in the incident, and the Mercy was not harmed or damaged in any way, the US Department of Justice said in an earlier statement.

However, it did result in the train leaking a substantial amount of fuel oil, which required fire and other hazardous materials personnel to clean up.

Moreno admitted in two separate interviews with law enforcement authorities that he intentionally derailed and crashed the train near the Mercy.

In an interview with the FBI, Moreno said he was suspicious about the real purpose of the hospital ship USNS Mercy. Photo: US Navy

He ran the train off the end of tracks and crashed through a series of barriers before coming to rest more than 250 yards from the Mercy.

A California Highway Patrol officer, who took Moreno into custody as he fled the scene, said he made a series of spontaneous statements, including, “You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People do not know what’s going on here. Now they will.”

In his first interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno acknowledged that he “did it,” saying that he was suspicious of the Mercy and believed it had an alternate purpose related to Covid-19 or a government takeover.

In a second interview with FBI agents, Moreno stated that “he did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up,’” and that he was “suspicious” about the ship’s real purpose.

Moreno admitted to intentionally derailing and crashing the train, he said he knew it would bring media attention and “people could see for themselves”, referring to the Mercy.

The Los Angeles Port Police reviewed video recorded from the trains with one video showing the train clearly moving at a high rate of speed before crashing through various barriers and coming into proximity to three occupied vehicles. A second video shows Moreno in the cab holding a lighted flare.

Authorities said the train wrecking charge alleged in the criminal complaint carried a potential statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.