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Investigation Continues in Houston Ship Channel Collision

A federal judge on Friday ordered seizure of the cargo ship that collided with a fuel barge causing the oil spill in Galveston Bay.

On March 22, the Summer Wind was en route to the Port of Houston when it collided with a barge owned by Kirby Inland Marine. The barge was being towed by the tugboat Miss Susan and was headed from the Port of Texas City to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).

Spanning 3,000 miles (4,800 km), the ICW provides a preferred shipping route consisting of channels, lagoons, rivers and man-made canals along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Navigating heavy commercial traffic amidst narrow pathways forces vessels to often maneuver in close proximity with obstructed vision. Any form of negligence can easily cause accidents in these situations.

The vessels collided where the Texas City channel and ICW intersect. The collision resulted in the spill of more than 168,000 gallons (4,000 barrels) of heavy fuel oil into the bay.

Every mile of the ICW is governed by the Inland Navigation Laws but the legal framework is far more complex as Federal admiralty and maritime law overlap with state law and special inland area laws. Though the investigation regarding fault in the Houston wreckage is still ongoing, under federal law, Kirby Inland Marine is designated as the responsible party since the spilled oil came from its barge.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an offshore accident, finding a maritime lawyer who is experienced in these legal complexities is paramount. Contact the law office of Doyle where we have extensive experience with offshore and ICW injuries.

– Via Galveston County The Daily News