Oil slick

Last Saturday, the towboat Dixie Vengeance, owned and operated by Kirby Corp., and the two barges the boat was pushing somehow collided with the Singapore-flagged 806′ tanker Eagle Otome in the Sabine-Neches Waterway in Port Arthur, Texas. I say “somehow” because the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board, who are heading up the investigation, are not yet prepared to say what actually happened. What they are saying is that the investigation is ongoing.

What we do know is that the collision resulted in the tanker losing about 462,000 gals. of oil. The waterway was opened to limited traffic on Wednesday.

We know that resources on the scene include four contracted boom vessels, 59,800′ of deployed boom, 27 skimming vessels, a 210′ oil recovery vessel, over 500 workers, the Coast Guard cutter Manowar, four Coast Guard small response boats, and a Coast Guard MH-65C helicopter crew.

We know that the efforts of these people and others have turned a potentially disastrous spill into a manageable problem. The oil slick is contained. Unified Command, made up of the Coast Guard, the Eagle Otome’s owners (AET Tanker Holdings), and the Texas General Land Office, has so far been successful in containing the spill. Approximately half of oil has been recovered.

Reports say the Eagle Otome did not lose power shortly before the accident and fog was not a contributing factor.

Joe Pyne, Kirby’s CEO, said his vessel was not at fault. During an earnings call with analysts on Thursday, Pyne said there was no scenario in which the tow could have avoided colliding with the ship. “We feel as the facts roll out … the Kirby vessel was not at fault,” he told analysts.

We know the closure of that waterway interrupted the flow of oil to refineries. Hopefully this won’t translate into paying more at the pump.

About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

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