Barges (yes multiple barges) and tanker Genesis River collide in Houston Ship Channel

Anybody know anymore about this? I’m onboard ship now, so my internet sucks…

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Houston02 Houston03 Houston04
Kirby 3001ST looks like.


I could think of a few better place to be than running a launch through reformate spilling out of a barge…

Bayport ship channel junction in the upper bay from the looks of it. I’m not a fan of Houston. The pilots are very good, but the tugs tend to say one thing over the radio but do something entirely different when the rubber hits the road. Not saying that is what happened here, but I’ve spent many a transit at pucker factor 10 and shaking my head at some boneheaded moves. It’s a very congested area with very little room for error.


Yes, that’s the same thing I’ve been seeing. We were inbound and a tug/barge called and said he was holding up for us on the other side of a turn. But the pilot told me the tug/barge was holding up in the precise spot where we were going to need to be.

The pilot said they were getting a lot more operators in the Channel that didn’t understand what needed to happen with regards to traffic.

Amen. The Texas Chicken is not a dance for the faint of heart.

Incident reported to have occurred between channel markers 71&74. That’s south of Bayport. Can’t imagine what caused the collision. Typically the towboats stay well into the barge channel. KHOU says the barges were in the inbound channel and the ship was outbound. The barge damage looks near to a t-bone hit.

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Looks like it could be some fairly ugly stuff that got loose:

Gasoline Blend Stocks


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Tanker collided with oil barges, one capsized, major spill, Houston - FleetMon

LPG tanker GENESIS RIVER collided with barges pushed by tug VOYAGER on the Houston Ship Channel at Light 71-74, at around 1515 LT May 10, while proceeding down the Channel, en route from Houston to Port Said. One barge capsized, another one was badly damaged, leaking its’ cargo of reformate, refined product that is blended with gasoline to boost octane. Each barge carried some 25,000 barrels of reformate. Some 25,000 barrels feared to already leak. Port Houston Fire Department fireboat plus oil spill response, air monitoring and salvage personnel are responding, the Coast Guard said.
Tanker, which suffered bow damages, was taken to Shady Oaks harbor, just abeam of collision site, and berthed.

There is a slight bend in the channel just a little south of Five Mile Cut. Looks like the downbound Genesis River was making the turn at that bend and went out of control for a bit for some reason and carried the turn too far, continuing the turn into the inbound lane towards the upbound Voyager. The Voyager went hard left into the downbound side of the channel to avoid however at about the same time the Genesis River was able to recover and was in a hard turn to stbd to regain the stbd side of the channel.


Wrong way with the helm or lack of shifting the rudder when the pilot went to check the swing on the genesis? The VDR will be crucial in this case.

The turn to port by the tow was ill advised in my opinion. I’d rather ground on the mud bank on the red side than roll the dice in a wholesale departure from the rules but this looks like it unfolded very quickly so I’d imagine quite a bit was reflexive.


I think that’s the case. In a situation with more time to think the brain would pick the high-level choice “COLREGS Rule 14(a)”. If a dangerous situation develops suddenly and unexpectedly the brain is more likely to downshift into a more primal mode and just choose “steer for open water”.


That bend is really tight for the meeting of two large tanker vessels, being the LPG BW Oak and the Genesis River, at a relative speed of 28 mph !!! Can you imagine the interaction between these two vessels and/or with the outer limit of the channel … :astonished:

Yes, it’s tight there. Not sure about that particular spot but in general:

EDIT: According to the chart the main channel there is 47 ft x 530 ft (14.4 meters deep x 161 meters wide)


There is a member here that is a Houston Pilot

My brain would be more likely to downshift into a more primal mode and just choose to «steer to starboard to the shoals» rather than to «steer to port for open water across the bow of an incoming tanker at 14 mph» !!!


Yes, of course. I should have worded more carefully. I meant to say that if a dangerous situation develops suddenly and unexpectedly it increases the likelihood of making the more primitive decision. Not that it would necessarily be more likely.


In that specific area, it would be (very) easy to widen the curve, otherwise to slacken the throttle a bit… :thinking: