Maersk Chemical Tanker Leaks Product Into Houston Ship Channel After Collision

The chemical tanker Carla Maersk sits at anchor off Morgans Point, Texas, after being involved in a collision with the bulk carrier Conti Peridot March 9, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The chemical tanker Carla Maersk sits at anchor off Morgans Point, Texas, after being involved in a collision with the bulk carrier Conti Peridot March 9, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Vessel Traffic Services Houston-Galveston and the U.S. Coast Guard have confirmed a vessel collision on the Houston Ship Channel at 12:30PM CST on Monday involving the bulk carrier MV Conti Peridot carrying a cargo of steel and the chemical tanker Carla Maersk carrying 216,000 bbls of MTBE.

The Coast Guard says the Carla Maersk is listing and that upwards of three port cargo tanks may have been breached.  An unknown quantity of the ship’s cargo has leaked into the channel.

The collision occurred approximately 1 kilometer south of the entrance to Barbours Cut.

Incident Photos: Damage to Carla Maersk and Conti Peridot Following Collision

carla maersk collision houston ship channel
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The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down the Houston Ship Channel between light 86 to Morgan’s Point.

An update from the USCG Alert and Warning System issued at 2:15 CDT read:

“A discharge of MTBE, Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether, has occurred following a collision at Morgan Point on the Houston Ship Channel.  Primary hazard is flammability, and odor detection threshold is very low – 50 PPM.  Port entities are advised the Houston Ship Channel is closed to all traffic from light 86 to Morgans Point High lines.  A Unified command is being established – follow any protective orders issued by municipal & county authorities.”

The following notice by Candice Armenoff, Port of Houston Authority Customer Service Manager was posted on gCaptain’s Facebook page:

Barbours Cut and APM Terminals are under and evacuation order. Drivers that are inside of the terminal will be escorted off by Port Police. Containers will not be allowed to exit the terminal as US Customs has also evacuated. Containers and Chassis can be dollied down inside of the terminal. I will be sure to follow up with details as I get them. 

An update from the Port of Houston said that business operations continue at all Port of Houston Authority terminals with the exception of the Barbours Cut Container Terminal.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it has sent a team to investigate the collision.

A “Shelter In Place” order is in effect for Morgan’s Point, according to the City of La Porte’s Office of Emergency Management.

A.P. Møller Maersk spokesperson Mikkel Elbek Linnet said in an emailed statement, “Carla Maersk crew are safe and accounted for, and there are no reports of injury and fire on the vessel. Vessel is anchored in Houston Ship Channel and not in immediate danger. A response team is working on handling the incident.”

MTBE, or methyl tertiary-butyl ether, is a chemical compound that is primarily used as a fuel additive in motor gasoline.

Weather in the area was reported to be foggy with light rain.

Full Coverage: Carla Maersk Collision

Maersk Carla file photo (c) MarineTraffic/
Carla Maersk file photo (c) MarineTraffic/Adawo

Today’s incident follows a collision last Thursday (March 5th) involving the Hamburg Süd-owned containership Monte Alegre and the chemical tanker Chembulk Houston, which briefly shut portion of the channel. No injuries or pollution were reported as a result of that incident.