The water dance of cargo and assist ships largely goes unnoticed until something goes wrong, like it did Saturday, and an estimated 168,000 gallons of fuel oil spill into Galveston Bay. Then maritime operations are shut down and environmental cleanups take precedence over collision investigations.
Given the tight space ships have to work in, maritime officials said it’s only through redundant safety protocols that more accidents are avoided.
“You look at the number of jackknifed trucks and rail spills on the road and movement of commodities on the water is the safest,” said Thomas Marian, general counsel for Buffalo Marine Services, which operates barges and tow vessels in the Houston area.
The Texas City Y, as the waterway between Galveston Island and Bolivar Island is called, is the point at which ships inbound from the Gulf of Mexico either head into the port of Galveston, the intracoastal waterway, the port of Texas City, or steer north into the Houston Ship Channel.