|The US Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit (MSU) Port Arthur’s Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) held a Port Coordination Team (PCT) conference call at 1600 hours today to discuss the impacts to ship traffic due to salvage operations on a sunken tugboat near Sabine Pass. Your WGMA Maritime Affairs team participated on the call and has the following report for our membership:
Captain Wyke, Commander of MSU Port Arthur and Captain of the Port, opened the call by thanking everyone for calling in and getting together to address everyone’s concerns and priorities. She then turned the call over to Scott Whalen, Director of the Port Arthur VTS, to provide an update on the situation.
Vessel Traffic Service:
· Last night and this morning, several test ships with light drafts were moved past the area to see how the wreck handled it or if they made things worse
· The test vessels ran without incident, so the draft was increase and a ship with 30′ draft ran this morning and a ship at 36′ this afternoon
· The deeper ship caused the ITB to surge, so traffic was suspended while additional mooring lines were placed to better secure the vessel
· The COTP has authorized sailing a 38’07” ship, which will pass the area about 6:30PM
· The salvors have scheduled a dive for tomorrow morning in order to begin rigging the tug for lifting
· Lighter draft ships will not be impeded; the divers will leave the water when deeper draft ships need to pass
· The salvage schedule is presently unknown
Captain Drew Guidry, Presiding Officer of the Sabine Pilots, advised there were currently 3 inbound ships, with the deepest draft only 31’00”. 3 ships are currently queued for departure; one of those is at 36’09” and will pass the area about 8PM tonight. That leaves another 15 ships for inbound transit and 16 ships for departure.
Several industry representatives on the call reported having critical ships scheduled within the next few days; most advised no problems at this time.
VTS Port Arthur advised they will continue to monitor the situation and schedule another PCT call when warranted. Your WGMA Maritime Affairs team will monitor the situation, participate on any conference calls, and then report to our membership