Two ships collide in foggy Houston Ship Channel; nobody hurt

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by Larry Seward / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on December 13, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 13 at 7:40 PM

TEXAS CITY—A portion of Houston’s ship channel was closed Tuesday after a chemical tanker and empty cargo ship collided in thick, blinding fog.

It happened just north of the Texas City Dike. Conditions were so bad investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard said they could not take boats out to the scene to examine the ships involved.

The pilots who guide ships in and out of the channel said visibility was near zero on the water Tuesday morning.

Around 6 a.m., they said fog rolled in.  By 8 a.m., pilots were in the process of shutting down a portion of the channel just north of the Texas City Dike when two ships, which left port in less foggier conditions, collided.

The “Charleston”, a chemical tanker carrying acetone and the “Harvest Sun,” an empty cargo ship were involved.  There were no injuries or pollution, authorities reported. 

“There’s a gash in one of the ships above the water line so there’s no leaking in the ship,” said Cpt. James Whitehead of the U.S. Coast Guard.  

Still, both remain anchored in the channel waiting for Coast Guard investigators who could not get to the scene because of the fog.

“We have to wait for the weather to lift then both those ships will go off either to a dock or to an anchorage and then both ships will have to be repaired before they leave the port,” Whitehead said.

The coast guard suspended anyone from boarding vessels in that area until authorities determined it was safe.

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