Lesson Learned: Galveston Bay Oil Spill on March 22, 2014

Asked by esjensen 7 years, 5 months ago | 3 Answers

Lesson Learned: Galveston Bay Oil Spill (Houston Ship Channel) from barge and container ship collision on March 22, 2014.

What can be done to prevent a similar accident from happening again?

Below is a summary of the incident for information:

  • A statement released by the U.S. Coast Guard to the Houston Chronicle has provided some new insight into the moments leading up to the March 22 “Texas Y” collision in the Houston Ship Channel, causing some 168,000 gallons of a heavy bunker fuel to spill into the channel and Gulf of Mexico.
  • A Houston pilot onboard the inbound MV Summer Wind bulk carrier warn the captain of the Kirby Inland towboat, MV Miss Susan, which was pushing barges carrying nearly 1 million gallons of oil, as it tried to cross the busy Texas Y intersection ahead of the bulk carrier.
  • “I’m looking at everything. I’m fixing to start to cross the intersection down to Bolivar. How do I look to you?” the Miss Susan captain said.
  • “Well, if you keep on going I’m going to get you,” a Houston pilot aboard the Summer Wind responded. “Because right now I’m about three quarters of a mile from you and you haven’t got to the channel yet.”
  • “All right, well (expletive). I’m glad I called,” replied the Miss Susan’s captain. And it goes on from there.
  • The MV Summer Wind struck the lead barge, breaching a tank and resulting in what has been called Texas’ worst inland oil spill in decades.

3 Answers

esjensen 7 years, 5 months ago
Here's a link to the recorded conversation and map of the vessels movement. http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid16971634001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAACqt5kg~,MM40heKWKo_w4kdcA-Is_tzN8ctjsS0T&bctid=3415502612001

judyp 7 years, 5 months ago

The Galveston Bay spill never should have happened, experts say.

  • Even with the Summer Wind bulk carrier hidden from view, the captain of the towboat Miss Susan could use high-tech equipment to track the larger ship as it approached a complex intersection of waterways known as the Texas City Y.
  • The captain of the towboat Miss Susan needed to find a break in traffic big enough to safely cross the channel at 5 mph while pushing two barges more than 400 feet long. Protocol called for the towboat captain to yield to larger vessels.
  • Instead, the Miss Susan moved into the path of the Summer Wind, and stunned witnesses watched as the larger ship broke out of the fog and rammed the towboat's lead barge, piercing its double hull and causing nearly 170,000 gallons of sludge-like oil to leak into Galveston Bay. It's one of the largest spills to foul Texas waterways in more than a decade.
  • "Most of us are astonished with the technology and the implementation of the rules that it would happen," said Ron Campana, an experienced captain and safety consultant. "The technology and the equipment is there to prevent this and on top of that you have the U.S. Coast Guard monitoring - it just doesn't make sense."
  • Kirby Corp. is the owner of Miss Susan and owns/operates one of the industry's top training centers for its employees in Channelview.

Normandy 7 years, 5 months ago
This is another reason that Oil Container must consider Double Hull Requirements when designing a new tanker or selecting an existing vessel for conversion.