News & Media

14 May, 2019

Houston Ship Channel Traffic Status

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) convened the Port Coordination Team (PCT) today, Tuesday May 14th, to discuss the ongoing status of the salvage operations on the Houston Ship Channel. 
Your West Gulf Maritime Association Maritime Affairs team participated on the call and has the following report: 
National Weather Service advised that it should be mostly sunny with easterly winds about 10 knots, moving to southerly and increasing to 15 knots later today. It should be a quiet night and the winds will quarter back to easterly at 10 knots overnight. This pattern should repeat tomorrow. 
USCG Waterways Management has downsized the safety zone to about a nautical mile around the salvage area, affectively freeing up most of the lower bay and Clear Creek area to recreational boating. 
Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) advised: 

  • There is still a restriction of no meeting or overtaking in the vicinity of HSC 73, and wake & surge considerations are in place from HSC Light 66 to HSC Light 76. 
  • They are also advising that all vessel traffic is to favor the RED side as far as can be done safely.
  • There is currently little impact to brown water traffic.
  • A Category 1 channel closure request has been authorized to move the damaged barge tomorrow morning.
  • It could be another 2 to 8 days before the capsized barge can be removed from the site.
  • Plans are still being formulated on the best approach for salvaging the capsized barge.
  • Traffic restrictions will remain in place until the capsized barge has been removed from the site.
  • There is a meeting underway to discuss moving the GENESIS RIVER from her layby location to a different layby in order to free up her current berth for cargo ships.

Multiple channel users have provided their priority vessel lists to VTS and the Houston Pilots. No urgent or emergent situations were advised during the conference call.
Houston Pilots advised they continued moving inbound traffic last night, handling 44 arrivals, 5 sailings, and 4 shifts. Inbound traffic continues today, but they will switch to departures about noon. They hope to depart 12-15 vessels, then switch back to inbounds and will stop at about 0400 hours due to the planned channel closure. 
Agents are reminded to ensure their vessel eNOA/Ds are updated, and to keep the Houston Pilots closely advised about vessel readiness to sail or proceed inbound.
There will be another PCT conference call tomorrow, Wednesday, May 15th, at 0900 hours. It is anticipated that the calls will continue until the channel restrictions are removed and operations are completely back to normal. 
Your WGMA Maritime Affairs team will continue to participate on the PCT calls and advise updates to our membership.

Please contact the local Inchcape office for more information regarding movements and closures.

Phone: +1 281 860 1500