Offshore InjuryBlog

Preliminary Report Released on Houston Ship Channel Collision

Last month we wrote about another ship collision in the Houston ship channel. The collision between a bulk carrier and a chemical tanker released over 200,000 gallons of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) into the water and shut the ship channel down for three days. The collision has been under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which released its preliminary report last week.

Key Findings from the NTSB Report

The preliminary report noted several key findings:

  • The Conti Peridot departed with good visibility and the Carla Maersk departed during light rain. However, both ships reported running into heavy fog as they approached the channel.
  • Around 11:30am, fog conditions were heavy enough that ship pilots delayed their deportation. Ships that had already departed continued their transit with caution.
  • The pilot of the Conti Peridot estimated visibility to be about the length of the ship.
  • Unable to return to the center of the channel, the Conti Peridot arranged a port-to-port passing with the Carla Maersk.
  • The Conti Peridot warned the Carla Maersk that it was moving across the centerline and approaching the vessel.
  • When the Carla Maersk saw the Conti Peridot appear through the fog, the captain ordered a hard starboard and full ahead in an attempt to avoid the collision.
  • The Conti Perdiot collided with the Carla Maersk and penetrated two ballast tanks that contained MTBE.

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