Bridge Audio Recording Reveals Mistakes in Houston Ship Channel Collision

Mike Schuler
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April 1, 2014

A tank barge leaks fuel oil following a collision with a bulk carrier, March 22, 2014 in the Houston Ship Channel. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

A ship-to-ship audio recording 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.

In the audio recording, you can hear 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.

Have a listen and let us know what you think in the comments:

Here’s a link to the audio if player doesn’t load

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