Coast Guard focuses on recovery operations after Hurricane Ike

KATY, Texas – Coast Guard crews continue recovery operations in the wake of Hurricane Ike, focusing on search and rescue, pollution response and reopening the Houston Ship Channel.

Since Friday, search and rescue crews in a joint effort with the Texas National Guard and the California Air National Guard flew 511 missions, saving 209 lives.

To date, 101 pollution cases are reported in the Houston-Galveston and the Port Arthur areas. Reports continue to come in, and that number is changing. Some of these materials can be dangerous to boat operators and their vessels. The Coast Guard and other federal, state and local agencies are evaluating the cases and developing plans to mitigate the impact.

• The Houston Ship Channel is open to outbound commercial vessels with a draft of 12 feet or less.

• The Gulf Intra-coastal Waterway is open from the Houston-Galveston area west toward Corpus Christi.

• The Port of Freeport, Texas is now open to vessels with a draft of less than 36 feet for daylight transits only and day and night transits for vessels with drafts of 16 feet or less.

There are 104 vessels in the queue waiting to transit to facilities in Houston, Galveston, Freeport and Texas City.

Approximately 90-percent of the ATON markers in the area have been moved or destroyed by Hurricane Ike and made some waterways unsafe and un-navigable. Coast Guard crews are aggressively working to replace the markers in the channel and waterway so ships can resume normal operations.

The following cutters and Coast Guard assets are in the Houston-Galveston area to assist with ATON repairs and replacement:

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hatchet
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Clamp
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harry Claiborne
Four vessels from Aids to Navigation Team from Galveston
Two vessels from ANT Corpus Christi

The following cutters are en-route and will assist with ATON repairs and replacement in the Houston-Galveston waterways:

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mallet
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pamlico
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Saginaw
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cypress
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Barbara Mabrity

Recreational boaters are urged to stay off the Gulf Intra-coastal Waterway and Houston Ship Channel until further notice. Waterway restrictions remain in effect until ongoing post-hurricane assessments for aids to navigation, pollution and navigational hazards are completed. In addition to hazards in the water, four out of seven radio towers in the area have been damaged or destroyed, which may impact the ability of vessels to communicate with rescue teams assisting mariners in distress.

To ensure adequate coverage of offshore rescue assets, the Coast Guard is positioning several cutters to cover the approaches to the Houston Galveston area.

Coast Guard Cutter Northland
Coast Guard Cutter Decisive
Coast Guard Cutter Heron
Coast Guard Manowar
Coast Guard Cutter Skipjack
Coast Guard Cutter Manta

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