The probable cause of the 2015 collision of the Conti Peridot and the Carla Maersk in the Houston Ship Channel was the inability of the pilot on the Conti Peridot to respond appropriately to hydrodynamic forces after meeting another vessel during restricted visibility, and his lack of communication with other vessels about this handling difficulty controlling his vessel, said the National Transportation Safety Board.

Toxic chemical released into water

Contributing to the circumstances that resulted in the collision was the inadequate bridge resource management between the master and the pilot on the Conti Peridot. The collision of the 623-foot long, bulk cargo carrier Conti Peridot, with the 600-foot long tanker Carla Maersk, resulted in the release of approximately 88,200 gallons of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) into the waters of the Houston Ship Channel on March 9, 2015.

“No ships sank and no lives were lost in this collision, but the release of more than 88,000 gallons of MTBE into the waterway, which resulted in the surrounding communities sheltering in place immediately following the release of the hazardous materials, underscores the severity of this accident,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart. “The Houston Ship Channel also supports one of our nation’s busiest seaports, hosting more than 60 ship and 350 barge movements each day. Accidents that disrupt navigation of this vital waterway can have significant impacts, not only to our environment, but also to our economy. Effective bridge resource management can make the difference between a near-miss and a tragic accident, and this is particularly true in the narrow and congested Houston Ship Channel.”

Three safety issues

The NTSB identified three safety issues in the accident including insufficient pilot communications, inadequate bridge resource management, and the lack of predetermined ship movement strategies during restricted visibility in the Houston Ship Channel.

The NTSB issued three new safety recommendations to Bremer Bereederungsgesellschaft mbH & Co., (the operating company of the Conti Peridot), the Houston Pilots Association, and the Lone Star Harbor Safety Committee, based upon the findings of the investigation. To view the findings and recommendations, click on the following link: