Fire on barge closes Corpus Christi ship channel, Texas

An explosion and subsequent  fire on barge B255 during the morning of October 20th, some three miles off the jetties of Port Aransas, Texas, killed at least one crew member and caused the temporary closure of Corpus Christi ship channel as the fire continued to slowly burn itself out.

The captain of tug Buster Bouchard (IMO 7814591) reported that the barge, loaded with approximately 133,000 barrels of crude oil and attached to his tug, was on fire and that two crew members were missing. The explosion happened while the tug was pulling in anchor about 3.25m offshore. The vessel was inbound at the time, heading for the Gulf Copper Ship Yard in Port Aransas.

The USCG has established a 1,000 yard safety zone and is working with the pilots and harbour master to control vessel traffic in the area. A pollution boom is being put in place. There were initial reports of some oil in the water. Six of the eight crew members were rescued; one of the men initially missing was found dead some seven hours after the first emergency call.

Rick Adams, emergency management coordinator for the City of Port Aransas, said ship channel has been closed and an oil boom is being brought out as a precaution because of a light but noticeable oil sheen on the water’s surface.

1979-built, USA-flagged, 592 gt Buster Bouchard is owned by Tug Buster Bouchard care of manager Bouchard Transportation Inc of Melville, New York State, US.