Port of Houston's Bayport Terminal. Photo: Port of Houston Authority

Port of Houston Container Terminals Shut Due to ‘Hardware Failure’

Mike Schuler
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July 28, 2021

Update: Port Houston’s container terminals remain shut Thursday morning. An update is expected soon.

The Port of Houston’s two container terminals are currently shut as a result of a “hardware failure” that began Monday morning.

In a statement, Port Houston made clear that the incident is not related to a cyber attack and it is working to restore systems as soon as possible. However, the two container terminals, Bayport and Barbours Cut, are not expected to open today or tonight.

The port’s executive director, Roger Guenther, explained the situation in a letter to customer and stakeholders.

“Yesterday, in advance of the truck gates opening at their normal time of 7:00 a.m. we experienced a major failure of the storage devices that support all of the applications used to operate both Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals. Our staff responded immediately and moved the applications and associated data to a redundant set of storage devices and the terminals were again operational by 10:00 a.m. Unfortunately, the redundant storage devices failed at 12:00 noon and the terminals have been unable to process any transactions since then. I want to be clear that this is not a cyber-attack on the Port Houston operating system,” writes Guenther.

Ships that were already in progress have been able to continue working, but operations on new vessels “have not been possible”. Truck gates at both container facilities are also idle.

Guenther reports that the port is now in possession of necessary hardware, but configuration and restoration “has been a slow process”.

“Frankly, the outlook for reopening today is not good,” writes Guenther.

Port Houston’s Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals handle about two-thirds of all the containerized cargo in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Like other container ports around the country, the port has seen a continued surge of imports since rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic. Year-to-date through June, the Port Houston has recorded 1,607,793 TEUs for a 13% increase over last year.

Once systems are restored, Guenther said the port’s plans include daily extended gate hours as well as weekend gates. “Also, all available resources will be provided to continue vessel operations.”

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