Update: Paragon Still Working on Drillship Removal from Corpus Christi Port

Image Courtesy: DVIDSHUB, USCG, Petty Officer 3rd Class Johanna Strickland

Despite refloating attempts undertaken on Monday, Paragon Offshore’s grounded drillship continues blocking the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas in the Hurricane Harvey aftermath, keeping the port closed to vessel traffic.

“Until that vessel is moved no deep-draft vessels will be moving in the ship channel,” the United States Coast Guard said commenting on the ongoing situation.

Namely, the Paragon DPDS1 broke loose of its moorings during Hurricane Harvey’s landfall while in safe harbor at Port Aransas.

“The ship, which had drifted into the channel and grounded on the northern side of the channel near the entrance to the port, was refloated by the tide late Monday evening and drifted across the channel the southern side of the channel where it again ran aground. The ship is upright and we believe its condition is stable,” Paragon said in an update.

“We do not know of any injury, loss of life, or damage to the environment resulting from the breakaway,” the firm stressed earlier.

Since the incident, a tug boat has been stationed to monitor the ship on a continuous basis. T&T Salvage is on site and pressure is coming from the Coast Guard to get it removed.

The rig has been lighted to ensure that any contact by vessels in the channel can be avoided, according to the vessel’s owner.

“Paragon and its service providers conducted a survey today (August 29) of the vessel’s condition and will present a removal plan as soon as possible to the US Coast Guard that takes into account the condition of the channel, the condition of the vessel, public safety, and the environment.” 

Paragon insisted that no one tries to approach the vessel or board it without advance clearance from the company and the local authorities.

“A team of highly qualified people is working diligently on the response, and they will provide the safest approach to controlling the vessel after the storm has passed,” the company pointed out.

As of August 24, port condition ZULU was set for the entire Captain of the Port (COTP) area of responsibility due to the impact of the hurricane, which remains in effect with exception of Port of Brownsville.

This means that no vessel movements are permitted without specific permission of the Captain of the Port, which is being granted on a case-by-case basis before movements are allowed.

The coast guard said that a proposal would be made for the Port Condition ZULU to be modified in the Port of Corpus Christi to permit barges of less than 20′ draft to move within the inner harbor without needing specific permission. The decision on the approval is yet to be announced.

Furthermore, the USCG said that any facility that intends to receive deep-draft vessels at their dock must verify that a dock sounding survey has been accomplished and they are ready to receive ships.

Based on the surveys conducted on Tuesday by US Army Corps of Engineers, there have been no major issues reported.

“The surveys of the Inner Harbor are finished, and most of the surrounding waterways should be finished except for the Bay Channel. Conditions are still moderating and that should be finished tomorrow, if not by later today,” the Corps of Engineers said.

Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots informed that following a survey of the entire channel, there were no significant impediments that would prevent ship movements.

The port authority said on Tuesday its personnel is continuing to assess hurricane impacts with assessments indicating light to moderate damage and debris.

“The Port of Corpus Christi continues coordinating with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Coast Guard to expedite hydrographic channel surveys. Until such time, the USCG maintains Condition Zulu for all Port Corpus Christi channels including the Corpus Christi Ship Channel and La Quinta Ship Channel. As the weather continues improving in our area, it is facilitating the conclusion of the channel survey operations that will dictate the date for the channels to be open,” the update from the port reads.

The port authority noted it continues working toward achieving normal business operations by September 4th.

World Maritime News Staff

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