NTSB Issues Initial Finding on Ship Channel Collision

Federal investigators say a tugboat captain’s attempt to enter the Houston Ship Channel before a cargo ship probably led to a collision in 2014.

No one was injured in the collision that resulted in 4 thousand barrels of oil being spilled into the water. In March 2014, the two 300 foot long barges that were being towed by the tugboat were struck by the cargo ship. Matt Woodruff is with Kirby Inland Marine, which owns the tugboat:

“We believe the only acceptable accident rate is zero. We haven’t gotten there yet, and so we want to learn from accidents, to improve our procedures, to improve our training, and to improve our operations so that we can continually get closer to that goal of zero,” said Woodruff.

Captain Michael Morris is with the Houston Pilots, responsible for navigation control in the Houston Ship Channel. He says besides the the NTSB, there are other ongoing investigations into the accident. He says a state review board recommends that the tugboat captain, also known as a pilot, should be exonerated:

“We’re still waiting on the Coast Guard report on their hearing,” said Morris.

 The National Transportation Safety Board will issue a final report with safety recommendations as soon as possible.