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Tug boat hits boathouse in Port O'Connor

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Feb. 16, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.

A tugboat remains stationary after it struck a boathouse in Port O'Connor.

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A tugboat struck a boathouse early Thursday morning in Port O'Connor.

The Port O'Connor Coast Guard received a radio report about 6:15 a.m. Thursday from a tugboat, saying the vessel had run aground, striking a boathouse on the northern shore of the Intracoastal Waterway at mile marker 474, Lt. Steven Vanderlaske said.

The tugboat was pulling two barges with about 50,000 barrels of alkylate, a substance used by refineries to enhance the octane levels in gasoline.

The pilot reported that currents in the Intracoastal Waterway were strong, driving the tugboat into the boathouse near Fishermen's Cut.

Low visibility from lingering fog was also a factor, Vanderlaske said.

The Port O'Connor Coast Guard sent a response boat. No one was injured and no pollution was spreading from the accident.

The Corpus Christi Coast Guard sent a cutter boat to assist in the investigation.

A safety zone two miles wide was set up, and that section of the Intracoastal Waterway was closed.

The safety zone was canceled, and the channel was re-opened Thursday afternoon after the majority of the debris from the crash had been removed from the water.

The Coast Guard has issued a safety advisory about any remaining debris in the channel.

The investigation is ongoing, Vanderlaske said.

The tugboat belongs to Higman Marine Services, a Houston-based company that transports petroleum products for major oil companies.

Kyle Shaw, the vice president of the company, said accidents like this are rare because safety is a high priority in the company. The narrow waterway leaves little room for error, he said.

Shaw said the company would do everything to make things right with the owners of the boathouse.

"We travel these waters every day, and we rarely have anything like this happen," Shaw said. "We try to be good neighbors."

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