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March 26th, 2013

Feds Confirm Pilot Error Caused Houston Ship Channel Accident

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed that pilot error caused a collision involving a chemical tanker and a container ship in the Houston Ship Channel last year.

The accident occurred in the Houston Ship Channel in October 2011. The Greek-flagged tanker Elka Apollon was sailing outbound in the Houston Ship Channel, while the container ship was inbound. The pilots on both vessels had earlier agreed by radio to pass each other’s vessels near the intersection of the Houston and Bayport Ship Channels. The container ship pilot had slowed down to let the chemical tanker pass.

However, just as both the vessels were about to pass each other, the pilot of the Elka Apollon tanker failed to correct the ship’s path. The vessel crossed the channel, and crashed into the container ship. As a result of the impact, some of the containers from the containership fell onto the deck of the tanker. Fortunately, there were no fatalities resulting from this accident. None of the crew members on either of the 2 vessels were injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board has now completed its investigation of this accident, and has blamed the accident on the inappropriate response of the pilot of the Elka Apollon. According to the report, there were other factors that contributed to the accident. These included the narrow waterway as well as the density of traffic at the time. Both of these factors, together with the Houston Ship Channel’s bank effects, left very little room for error.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent crew members of container ships and chemical tankers injured in accidents at sea.

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