Texas Ports Update – Houston-Galveston, Corpus Christi, Port Arthur – Damage Photos and Video

Mike Schuler
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September 1, 2017

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted several overflights Thursday to assess the damage to ports along the Texas Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey as many of the affected ports began opening.

Hurricane Harvey has significantly impacted the entire Texas coast, home to petroleum refining centers in Corpus Christi, Houston, Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Lake Charles Louisiana. The storm forced many to either completely shutdown or significantly scale back operations.

As of Friday, the Port of Houston resumed partial operations after being closed for nearly a week due the storm. The Port of Houston Authority said both the Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals resumed operations on Friday, with three vessels waiting to come into Barbours Cut and one for Bayport as of early Friday morning.

Below is Friday’s update from the Port of Houston Authority: 

Port Houston Barbours Cut and Bayport terminals have resumed operations.
Gates are open Friday, 0700 – 1700, in-gate closing at 1600. Vessels will be worked as they are cleared for transit.
Port Houston Turning Basing Facilities: Both Upper level and Lower level road are open for operations.
Jacintoport: Open for business

Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4th: Vessels will be worked at Port Houston Container Terminals. Gate operations TBA.

Over the last week, several vessels have ended up skipping Houston altogether. A FAQ said seven containerships omitted Bayport while five containerships omitted Barbours Cut. As for damage to Port Houston container terminals, the port authority said there is no evidence of flooding at the terminals and no visible damage to containers, cranes, or other terminal equipment.

In a news conference late Thursday, Janiece M. Longoria, chairwoman of the Port of Houston Authority, said heavy current into the Houston Ship Channel at the Port of Houston was making it unsafe to bring in vessels.

Check the Port Houston website for the most up-to-date information on port operations.

As Friday Coast Guard Port Conditions at Houston-Galveston were set to “OPEN WITH RESTRICTIONS”. All vessels transits are being limited to daylight hours and the following draft restrictions are currently in place:

Freeport: Draft restricted to 33 feet or less.
Galveston: Draft restricted to 33 feet or less.
Houston: Draft restricted to 37 feet or less.
Texas City: Draft restricted to 33 feet or less.

In the Port Arthur and Lake Charles area, which includes the port of Beaumont, the ports remained closed as of Friday.

Coast Guard port conditions can be found on the Coast Guard’s Homeport website

Some aerial photos of the damage to other facilities located on the Houston Ship Channel are below (keep scrolling for update on Corpus Christi and Brownsville):

The above picture appears to show Southwest Shipyard’s facility on Brady Island, located on the Buffalo Bayou which flows into the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay.

Further south, the ports of Corpus Christi and Brownsville continue to recover from the storm as well.

The Coast Guard assessed damage and offered search and rescue assisitance during an overflight from Port Aransas to Port O’Connor, Texas, Aug. 26, 2017.. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Paragon Offshore drillship (the former Noble Phoenix) which at the entrance to the ship channel in Port Aransas, leading to Corpus Christi, is still aground as of Friday. You can see the drillship off to the side in the video below showing the arrival of the first vessels into Corpus Christi on Friday.

The Port of Corpus Christi has been open since 2:15 PM, August 31, 2017, but restricted to vessels with a draft no greater 43 feet. In addition, all foreign registered vessels 100 gross registered tons or larger, all domestic tank vessels 10,000 gross registered tons or larger, and all domestic non-tank vessels 1,600 gross registered tons or larger must conduct one way transits only; have a minimum of 2 pilots for each transit; and transit during daylight hours only.

As of Thursday’s update, the Port of Brownsville was open with no restrictions. 

“Mariners are advised that although some channel surveys have been conducted, the Coast Guard has not completed channel surveys of all inlets, harbors and channels to confirm safe transit,” the Port of Christi said in an update. “Mariners are to proceed with caution as navigational aids may be missing or off station and debris, shoaling and hazardous substances may be present. All other waterways of the COTP zone remain closed.”

Mariners are reminded that the Corpus Christi Inner Harbor Security Zone (33 CFR 165.809) remains in effect during severe weather and therefore recreational, commercial fishing and passenger vessels are not permitted to enter the security zone without permission of the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port. Vessels must have a prearranged agreement with the COTP to enter the Inner Harbor.

Below is a video of Thursday’s flyover of the port of Corpus Christi area. 

Coast Guard port conditions can be found on the Coast Guard’s Homeport website

Check back for port updates as they develop…

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