While docking, containership loses control, clips crane and knocks it off its track

A Horizon Lines containership went out of control and struck a shore-side crane while docking at a terminal near Houston.

The 700-foot Horizon Challenger damaged the crane, which was on a dock at the APM Terminals facility at Barbours Cut in La Porte, Texas. The accident occurred at 0537 on April 14 while the 18,775-gross-ton ship was docking, according to a joint statement issued by Horizon Lines and APM Terminals.

The bow on Horizon Challenger "clipped" the crane after being released by its docking tug, the statement said.

The crane was knocked off its track by the ship's impact, but was jacked up and placed back in service following the accident, said Thomas Nork, a Houston attorney who represents Horizon Lines in the region. He said damage to the ship amounted to little more than "scraped paint."

A railing on the ship also was damaged, said U.S. Coast Guard civilian investigating officer Steve Stokely of Sector Houston. When the ship was being docked, the angle on the bow was such that the railing above the bow flare struck the crane, Stokely said.

The accident happened at APM's Berth 6. Weather conditions were calm, with the wind blowing out of the west at about 3 knots, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tide and current conditions were unavailable.

"APM Terminals and Horizon Lines amicably and very quickly resolved the damage issue as part of a normal process," the companies' press statement said. The ship was only "modestly" delayed in its departure to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Henry de La Garza, an outside spokesman for the Houston Pilots, said there was a pilot aboard at the time of the accident. Capt. Steve Conway, presiding officer for the Houston Pilots, said the incident is under investigation by the Houston Pilots Commission, and the pilots are cooperating fully. The pilot group withheld further comment until the investigative report is issued, possibly later this year.

Janice Martinez, terminal operations manager for APM Terminals, referred all questions to Horizon Lines. Gordon Forsyth, an outside spokesman for Charlotte, N.C.-based Horizon Lines, would not comment beyond the brief press release.

The Coast Guard said that there were no injuries associated with the accident and that it was still under investigation.

By Professional Mariner Staff