On March 22nd, a barge filled with 924,000 gallons of marine fuel oil, was involved in collision with the bulk carrier Summer Wind. At the time of the incident, the barge was being towed by another vessel, Miss Susan.
The tugboat owner is claiming the Summer Wind was being operated at speeds too high for safe operations in the waterway. They also claim reckless operation by the ship’s captain and crew. That vehicle was operated by Sea Galaxy, a company based in the west African country of Liberia.
The accident resulted in the release of almost 170,000 gallons of oil into the Houston Ship Channel.
The worst loss of life ever in a sea disaster also involved a ship collision and fuel. On December 20, 1987, a Philippine passenger ferry, the MV Dona Paz, collided with the MT Vector, while the vessel was loaded with 8,800 barrels of gasoline.
Upon impact, much of the fuel caught fire. Panicked passengers scrambled for life jackets that were locked up. The flames quickly spread to the water, and many victims were forced to jump into flaming, shark-infested water attempting to escape the inferno. When it was all over, 4,375 people were dead.
Sea Galaxy stated the Summer Wind was “in all respects seaworthy, [and] staunch, strong, properly and sufficiently manned.”