The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Court filing alleges ship in Texas oil spill in March was speeding during collision

  • Print

HOUSTON - The owner of a tugboat that collided with a ship last month, dumping nearly 170,000 gallons of oil into the Houston Ship Channel, claims in court filings the ship was speeding and being operated in a reckless manner.

Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine alleges in court documents filed earlier this month that the March 22 collision, which occurred after the ship struck a barge the tugboat had been pulling, was caused by gross negligence on the part of the ship's owner, Sea Galaxy Marine based in Liberia in West Africa. In its own court filings, Sea Galaxy says the collision was not its fault.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which is still investigating the cause of the accident, did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment on the claims being made by the companies.

Two barges that were being pulled by the Kirby Inland-owned tugboat Miss Susan had been leaving Texas City and heading for the Intracoastal Waterway while a Sea Galaxy-owned inbound ship, the Summer Wind, was travelling through the Houston Ship Channel. The collision happened when the barges made a left turn to enter the Intracoastal Waterway and were crossing the ship channel.

But Kirby Inland alleged in court documents filed earlier this month that the tugboat had broadcast its position to let all vessels in the vicinity know its position. At the time, the Houston Ship Channel was under a fog advisory.

"While the Summer Wind knew of the Miss Susan's position, at no time did it attempt to adjust its speed or heading to avoid the vessel," Kirby Inland said in its April 8 court filing. "The collision occurred, among other reasons, due to the Summer Wind's excessive, unreasonable speed."

Kirby Inland alleges the collision "was solely and proximately caused by the fault ... and gross negligence of (Sea Galaxy Marine), and/or by the dangerous or unseaworthy condition of the Summer Wind."

Kirby Inland is seeking more than $10 million in losses from Sea Galaxy. Matt Woodruff, a Kirby Inland spokesman, declined comment Thursday due to the ongoing investigation.

An attorney for Sea Galaxy, Kevin P. Walters, also declined comment because of the investigation. He said Sea Galaxy intends to respond to Kirby Inland's allegations in future court filings.

The current court filings are part of lawsuits that have been filed against both Kirby Inland and Sea Galaxy by fishermen, business owners and others who are claiming to have suffered economic losses due to the oil spill and the shutdown of ship channel and surrounding waterways, which lasted several days. The ship channel is the main artery linking the area's busy ports with the largest petrochemical complex in the country.

In its own court filings, Sea Galaxy described its Summer Wind ship "in all respects seaworthy," and said it was "staunch, strong, properly and sufficiently manned."

The company said the loss and damage from the collision "were not caused or contributed to in any way by the fault, negligence or lack of due care on the part of ... Sea Galaxy."

Sea Galaxy has filed a petition asking that it be found not liable for injuries or damages, or that its liability be limited to the value of the ship, about $9.3 million.

The Coast Guard has said that cleanup from the oil spill, which spread into the Gulf of Mexico and southward along the Texas coast, is wrapping up.

___

Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/juanlozano70 .

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Soca and Reggae Festival and Weekend Weather

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google