Coast Guard revises Houston Ship Channel opening timeline

HOUSTON – The Coast Guard pushed back the opening of the Houston Ship Channel until at least Wednesday.

After starting removal operations Tuesday, the Coast Guard, CenterPoint Energy and American Electric Power crews revised the timeline for opening the Houston Ship Channel to at least Wednesday. Work will continue throughout the night to expedite the opening of the shipping channel.

CenterPoint Energy has currently disconnected and reeled in 4 out of the 14 power lines. After all of the lines are disconnected CenterPoint Energy will cut the remaining legs on the structure and Big John Marine will use the large crane on-scene to safely remove the structure.

There are currently 37 inbound vessels and 25 outbound vessels in the que.

Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston was notified at 6 a.m. Sunday that a barge had struck highline electrical structure 197 in Baytown. The tower supports power lines that cross the Houston Ship Channel.

The Coast Guard has stopped all inbound and outbound traffic to the Houston Ship Channel and established a safety zone from channel marker 105 to 124, roughly a four mile stretch of the ship channel. The Coast Guard and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are enforcing the safety zone. The power to the line was secured and poses no danger to the public. The line is owned by CenterPoint Energy.

AEP, the responsible party for this incident, owns the towing vessel Safety Quest. The Safety Quest was pushing three barges loaded with scrap metal when it allided with the Baytown high-line number 197. The high-line tower structure is currently being held up by one of the barges.

CenterPoint Energy contracted Big John Marine to help stabilize the structure and remove some of the stress off the power lines.

Drug and alcohol testing has been administered.

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