Houston Pilots Blame 2015 Collision on Fuel Issues

The Houston Pilots Association is taking a stand against the results of a collision study released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which noted that the pilot’s difficulty of controlling the bulk carrier Conti Peridot was the probable cause of a collision in the Houston Ship Channel in March 2015.

The NTSB’s study found that the pilot’s inability to respond appropriately to hydrodynamic forces after meeting another vessel during restricted visibility led to the collision between the bulker and the tanker Carla Maersk.

However, the association believes that the cause of the 2015 collision could be attributed to fuel issues and is challenging a federal review that blamed pilot errors for the accident.

Namely, the public information officer and a spokesman for the Houston Pilots, Henry de La Garza, told World Maritime News that the low sulphur fuels on which the ship was running prevented the pilot aboard the Conti Peridot to operate the vessel accordingly.

According to NTSB, other factors are believed to have led to the collision, among which is the lack of communication with other vessels about the handling difficulty, the inadequate bridge resource management between the master and the pilot on the Conti Peridot, as they did not work together to solve the problem, as well as the lack of predetermined ship movement strategies during restricted visibility in the Houston Ship Channel.

As a result of this accident, the NTSB issued safety recommendations to Bremer Bereederungsgesellschaft mbH & Co., the Conti Peridot’s operating company, the Houston Pilots Association, and the Lone Star Harbor Safety Committee.

No injuries were reported in the collision, but an estimated 88,200 gallons of methyl tert-butyl ether spilled from the Carla Maersk, and the two vessels suffered about USD 8.2 million in total damage.

World Maritime News Staff

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