Houston Ship Channel closed after barges break free

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(HOUSTON) — Flood levels and record-setting water current coming from the San Jacinto River caused a closure of the Houston Ship Channel after 12 barges broke free Sunday.

The Houston Ship Channel was closed to all traffic from light 111 to light 128 from 8:49 a.m. to 1:06 p.m. and was then open to ships, but restricted for barge traffic. At 3:45 p.m., the earlier restriction was lifted and barges began to be allowed to come inbound between light 125 and 131 with an assist tug. Outbound barges are considered on a case-by-case basis.

The waterway north of the I-10 bridge on the San Jacinto up to Lake Houston was also restricted at 12:44 p.m.

The 12 barges first broke free from the Kirby fleeting area, which is immediately south of the I-10 bridge where it crosses the San Jacinto River, at 8:05 a.m.; more were reported to have broken away afterward. The water current was measured at 7.9 knots and prevented attempts to return the barges. Kirby Inland Marine has secured 10 of the barges Sunday and was working to secure five others.

No pollution or injuries were reported.

By Professional Mariner Staff