Port Arthur Oil Spill - Tanker Eagle Otone holed by barge


HOUSTON – A collision between an oil tanker and two barges resulted in a major crude oil spill in the port of Port Arthur, Texas, the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday.

Ships Collide in Texas Port

<SMALL>0:52</SMALL> The U.S. Coast Guard says about 450,000 gallons of crude oil has spilled into the Port of Port Arthur area in southeast Texas after two vessels collided. Video courtesy of Fox News.

One of the barges tore a hole on the side of the tanker vessel Eagle Otone just before 10 a.m. CST, spilling 11,000 barrels of crude oil, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O’Berry. Mr. O’Berry said that there were no injuries reported among the crews of the vessels. He added that the Port Arthur waterway was closed to both incoming and outbound traffic pending further assessment of the situation. “It’s a major spill and we’re ready to respond to that,” Mr. O’Berry said.
Port Arthur, located about 90 miles east of Houston, is home to key fuel-producing facilities such as the 275,000-barrel a day Motiva refinery, jointly owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Arabian Oil Co; Total SA’s 174,000 barrels a day refinery, and Valero Energy Corp.'s 310,000 barrels a day refinery.
The spill is the second to afflict Texas in recent times; in October, a supply vessel crashed against a Liberian-flagged oil tanker, resulting in a 18,000 gallon oil spill–equivalent to about 429 barrels of oil.
Mr. O’Berry said that currently there was not an estimate of how many vessels are waiting to come into port due to the incident. Local media reported that about 100 people had been evacuated from the area by local authorities.
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saw a vid on Fox News earlier today. The jackstaff on the lead barge looked like it had a Kirby flag, and the numbers on the side were indicative of Kirby. Not confirmed, just hypothesis based on what I saw and what I have seen.

This does not look good for the tanker! Somebody turned in front of the tow when they shouldn’t have…

Thanks to c.captain for the informative photo.

Where is the NTSB on this one?
They normally announce that a team is on the way quite quickly.

Are escort tugs required on this stretch of water?
Is there a fuel switching program (low sulfur) in place for this port.
Was the ship operating on its normal fuel?

I hope we’ll get to see the AIS info and hear the VHF chatter as in the “Mel Oliver” incident.

The usefulness of AIS data in this case may depend on who collects and provides it. Heading information is critical in resolving collisions (and allisions).

USCG Video here.

What i’ve heard from friends down there is that the ship may have had a steering casualty.

There is no tug escort required at this part of the river. Vessels the size of the Otome & mine are daylight restricted. Also no low sulphur arrangement reqd here. Anyway its the cargo and not the bunkers that have been split.


Thanks for the comeback on escorts and fuel.
The question on fuel was driven by the local San Francisco Bay situation.
Numerous vessels now required to switch fuels approaching San Francisco have suffered “loss of propulsion incidents” attributed to the switch.

A tanker here in such a constricted waterway would have escorts, day or night.
I can’t put my hands on a rule but I suspect would be DLO (Daylight Hours Only)

“851.2 Purpose and Scope”
“This subchapter sets forth tank vessel escort requirements for the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bays. These requirements specify that tank vessels carrying 5,000 or more long tons of oil in bulk as cargo shall be escorted by a suitable escort tug or tugs”

Received by email

                   NTSB ADVISORY

National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594

January 25, 2010


The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a go-
team to participate with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in its
investigation of Saturday’s collision involving the tank
vessel EAGLE OTOME and the tug DIXIE VENGEANCE near Port
Arthur, Texas, in accordance with the Memorandum of
Understanding between the two federal agencies.

Marine investigator Rob Jones is leading the NTSB team and
is accompanied by specialists in engineering and hazardous

Media inquiries about the status of the investigation should
be directed to the USCG Joint Information Center for Port
Arthur at 409-812-0261.

[QUOTE=blcouch;25688]saw a vid on Fox News earlier today. The jackstaff on the lead barge looked like it had a Kirby flag, and the numbers on the side were indicative of Kirby. Not confirmed, just hypothesis based on what I saw and what I have seen.[/QUOTE]

it was a kirby boat. the dixie vengance. spent 8 years there in the river division.

dbhindin :

I understand your concerns regd the bunkers now. This waterway also requires a tug escort, but for the Beaumont refinery, the first tug is made fast aft around one hour further upriver. I’m not sure if it is because it gets narrower there (because it does feel like it.).

My agent tells me that the channel should open on the 29th for traffic.


Eagle Otome would likely have a VDR on board which should have been in the hands of the USCG PDQ upon their arrival on scene.

The VDR should reveal much.

Steering gear failure is obviously one possibility.

Another is pure human factors. The Canadian TSB did a report about a collision in a restricted channel like this one. One ship came too close to the bank and her stern was experiencing bank suction. The helmsman put more and more stbd wheel on to keep her straight, but didn’t tell the pilot. At some point the wheel was returned to midships with the inevidable result - the vessel sheered to port - right into the oncoming vessel.

See the report here;


I’ve spoken with a few guys that work the sabine area. They all said the ship allided with the bank while making a bend just below the area of the collision with the tow. This caused the bow of the ship to sheer acroos the channel in front of the tow.

+1 on hoping for the VTS recordings like the Mel Oliver case. I get chills every time I watch that on Youtube!