Cargo ship sideswipes moored fishing boat, resulting in diesel spill

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating what caused a bulk carrier to stray outside of the channel on the Sabine River and strike a moored fishing boat, with the wake causing another boat to breach its hull on a concrete pier.

The 581-foot King Yukon, a Panamanian-flagged freighter owned by Eastern Cross Shipping, was heading upriver in dense fog at about 0140 on Oct. 28, 2010, when the incident occurred, the Coast Guard said. The ship, carrying general cargo, was bound for the Kinder Morgan terminal in Port Arthur, Texas.

Containment boom is set up around three moored fishing boats after a chain reaction accident in the Sabine River. A ship struck one fishing boat, which then hit and damaged another. A wake pushed a third into a pier. (Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

Lt. j.g. Brandon Aten, spokesman for Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur, said King Yukon was at least 75 yards outside the channel near Mesquite Point when it sideswiped Capt. Scott, an 80-foot shrimping and fishing vessel. The channel in the area is about 500 feet wide and 38 feet deep, he said.

“The starboard aft section swiped Capt. Scott as (the freighter) was making a turn,” Aten said.

After being struck, Capt. Scott bumped into another moored fishing boat, the 87-foot Lucky Aaron. The wake caused a third fishing vessel, the 86-foot Little Angel, to crash against a concrete pier, Aten said.

The impact breached the hull of Little Angel, releasing about 300 gallons of diesel fuel into the water, the Coast Guard reported. The two other fishing vessels sustained minor damage, including a “pinhole leak” in the hull of Capt. Scott, Aten said. Damage to King Yukon was limited to scraped paint.

Capt. Scott released some fuel, but the majority was from Little Angel,” Aten said.

The Coast Guard dispatched a 25-foot response boat after being notified of the incident by a pilot aboard King Yukon. The boat arrived at the scene about 0215, followed by personnel from the Texas General Land Office, Oil Mop LLC and the Port Arthur Fire Department.

About 400 feet of containment boom was deployed, and absorbent materials were used to prevent the spill from spreading. A vacuum truck assisted in the operation, the Coast Guard said. The cleanup shut down the Sabine-Neches Waterway for about 14 hours, delaying two outbound vessels and two inbound vessels.

While dense fog was reported in the area at the time of the incident, Aten said the Coast Guard had not determined if there were other contributing factors. No injuries were reported.

Rich Miller

By Professional Mariner Staff