Drillship breaks free, sinks tugboat in Corpus Christi

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(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) — The Port of Corpus Christi remains closed after an oil drilling ship broke from its mooring Saturday, sank a tugboat and grounded in the ship channel’s entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

The port, which usually moves $100 million worth of goods a day, shut down midday Thursday before Hurricane Harvey reached landfall as a Category 4 hurricane north of Corpus Christi. It can’t reopen until the Army Corps of Engineers inspects it and the grounded ship is removed.

Andrew Smith, the Corps’ resident engineer for the Corpus Christi office, said the Corps will finish its survey of the area before Sept. 4, which is when port officials hope to reopen.

On Saturday, a 449-foot drill ship owned by Houston-based Paragon Offshore broke free from its moorings, sank one of two tugboats assigned to hold it in place and disabled the second one, said Burt Moorhouse, the general manager of Gulf Copper Harbor Island. Gulf Copper, a private dock where the ship was anchored, is next to the Port Aransas ferry crossing.

The Coast Guard was able to rescue the crew of the sunken tug, and a video on Twitter showed the tugboat half submerged with a crewmember being pulled from the vessel.

Click here to read the story. Click here to read a related report from Monday on the rescue.

Editor's note: The sunken tugboat is Signet Enterprise. The Coast Guard rescued four crew from the vessel and seven crew from Sabine Pass, the second tug that was holding the drillship.

By Professional Mariner Staff