Barge carrying naphtha catches fire in Houston Ship Canal after collision

Houston: A barge carrying 1m gallons of naphtha caught fire last night when it collided with another barge in the Houston Ship Canal, rupturing the barge’s hull.

Both barges were being hauled by tug boats at the time of the collision, which occurred around 01:20hrs local time this morning in the Bolivar Peninsula section of the Intracoastal Waterway, around 50 miles from Houston.

The US Coastguard dispatched a HFD fire boat to deal with the fire, which was extinguished around 05:20hrs. No cargo was spilled nor injuries sustained, reports say.

The Ship Chanel on the Bolivar side to mile 348 is currently closed.

The waterway has suffered a number of serious collisions this year. In March, a container ship and a tanker carrying lube oil collided, which forced the Canal to close for three days.

Just five days later, a chemical tanker and a bulk carrier collided in the Canal, causing a leak of flammable liquid methyl tertiary-butyl from the tanker.

Last year, the bulk carrier Summer Wind collided in the Canal with the towing vessel Miss Susan, which was pulling two 300-foot-long tank barges loaded with fuel oil. The collision ruptured the barges’ tanks, causing a massive oil spill that drifted up to 200 miles down the Texas coast.

The US National Transportation Safety Board blamed the collision partly on poor communication between vessels, which were both travelling too fast, and partly on a risky manoeuvre by a tugboat.


Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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