Cruiseship propeller sinks tug

A harbor tug assisting in docking maneuvers of a cruiseship at the Port of Houston’s Barbours Cut Terminal was sunk following a collision with the ship’s propeller.

The hull of the tug Jupiter was slashed by the prop of the 31,790-gt Big Red Boat III at 0700 June 10, 2000. Jupiter was immediately grounded deliberately by the four-person crew on nearby Spillman’s Island, before it was abandoned and allowed to sink.

Big Red Boat III, returning from a one-week cruise and anticipating a quick turn-around, suffered damage to one of its propellers in the incident, according to a Coast Guard investigation being coordinated through the Marine Safety Office in Houston. Premier Cruise Lines, which has since filed for bankruptcy, was forced to cancel the next week’s voyage due to the propeller damage, said Lt. Derek Dorazio of the Coast Guard.

Crewmembers reportedly “felt a bump” as the cruise ship was approaching the terminal pier. “The tug crew immediately pulled away from the ship,” Dorazio said. The vessel spilled 30 gallons of fuel and did not obstruct ship traffic in the channel.

Jupiter subsequently sank to its pilot house on the bank. T&T Marine of Houston was contracted to raise the vessel, which was expected to be repaired.

By Professional Mariner Staff