Coast Guard, local authorities respond to sunken tug boat in Houston Ship Channel

HOUSTON- The Coast Guard,in conjunction with a Houston Police Department Dive Team and the Texas General Land Office, is responding to a sunken tug boat in the Houston Ship Channel.

The command center at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston received a call at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, stating that the vessel J.R. Nichols, a 56-foot tug boat, had sank in the shipping channel near the Sims Bayou turning basin with five people onboard.

A vessel from the Lyondell facility rescued four of the five people onboard the tug boat. A Coast Guard 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Station Houston remains on scene, along with a dive team from the Houston Police Department, to search for the remaining person. In addition, an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Houston commenced a first light search at 7 a.m. Thursday.

A salvage plan for the J.R. Nichols has been submitted to the command staff at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston.

The Captain of the Port has closed the Houston Ship Channel from the Vopak facility to Sims Bayou in support of the search and rescue effort.

The cause of the vessel’s sinking is under investigation.

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