Poor communications and excessive speed blamed for Houston Ship Channel collision

Poor communications and excessive speed blamed for Houston Ship Channel collision

Houston: A collision on the Houston Ship Channel last year that led to 168,000 gallons of fuel oil being spilled in the waterway has been blamed partly on poor communication between vessels which were travelling too fast and partly on a risky manoeuvre by a tugboat.

That’s the verdict announced on Tuesday by the US National Transportation Safety Board in its findings on the incident.

The collision, which happened on March 22, 2014, was between a bulk carrier and a barge in Lower Galveston Bay.

Summer Wind, a 607-foot-long bulk carrier, collided with the Miss Susan a 70-foot-long towing vessel pulling two 300-foot-long tank barges loaded with fuel oil. The collision breached the hull of the forward tank barge, causing the big spill which drifted as far as 200 miles down the Texas Gulf Coast.

In its decision the NTSB said the failures of a ship channel navigator and the Summer Wind master to set a safe speed in the fog-shrouded channel was partly to blame. It also cited the failure of the tugboat captain and navigator to establish early radio communication.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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