HOUSTON, TX - “The Houston Pilots welcome today’s release of the NTSB’s findings and recommendations regarding the March 22, 2014 ship-barge collision on the Houston Ship Channel following a year long investigation,” said Captain Michael A. Morris, Presiding Officer of the Houston Pilots Association. “We will need some time to read and digest the full report, and are certainly open to any ideas that may improve navigation safety.”
There was a collision between the Kirby Inland Marine towing vessel Miss Susan which was pushing 2 barges (the lead of which was the Kirby 27706) and the bulk carrier Summer Wind. The collision resulted in an oil spill and partial closure of the Houston Ship Channel, one of the nation’s busiest waterways. The collision occurred at the Texas City Y intersection of the Houston Ship Channel and Intracoastal Waterway.
An investigation and hearing last year by the Pilot Board Investigation and Recommendation Committee (PBIRC) recommended exonerating the Houston Pilot aboard the bulk carrier SUMMER WIND of any responsibility for causing the collision. The board is composed of nine industry experts with over three hundred years of navigational and operational experience in and around the Houston Ship Channel. The PBIRC’s recommendation to exonerate the pilot is pending approval by the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports.
“Immediately following the collision, Houston Pilots reviewed the available facts of the incident and took actions to ensure commercial vessel safety,” said Morris. Among those actions, Morris explained, the Houston Pilots convened a two-day safety workshop attended by pilots and tow captains representing 1,000 years of operational experience on and around the Houston Ship Channel. “We asked a lot of hard questions and searched for some hard answers,” explained Morris. “We focused on things like vessel spacing, traffic management, communications, and visibility restrictions. Another heavily discussed item was mariners continuous balance of safe speed and maneuverability. The workshop exceeded everyone’s expectations, and everyone agreed the workshops should be continued again.”
“The Houston Pilots stand ready to work with the NTSB and our port partners to improve safety,” said Captain Morris.