Story by: Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Port Aransas, Texas – MAY 2, 2012 – The U.S. Coast Guard’s response moved into investigation mode after the collision between a fuel oil tanker and a drilling rig off the coast of Port Aransas. The oil tanker FR8 Pride lost power and went adrift Wednesday morning near the entrance to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The tanker collided with the Rowan EXL-1, a mobile offshore drilling rig. The Coast Guard first received a report of the collision at 7:25 a.m. Wednesday. The tanker and the rig were able to separate themselves with the help of tugboats. The Rowan’s crew moved the drilling rig farther offshore and anchored it using the rig’s legs. The impact caused the FR8 Pride’s forward ballast space to flood. The tanker’s crew was able to control the flooding and ground the tanker two miles offshore, according to Coast Guard reports.
No one was injured. The force of the collision left debris in the water and caused a hydraulic oil leak from the rig’s damaged crane, though the oil did not spill into the water, Coast Guard Lt. Steve Vanderlaske said. None of the FR8 Pride’s fuel oil leaked, he said. By afternoon, the tanker and rig had been hooked to an offshore anchor point. Teams of Coast Guard inspectors, investigators and pollution responders will continue to monitor the area. Part of the investigation involves deciding whether or not to remove the FR8 Pride’s oil, which could affect the tanker’s stability, Vanderlaske said. “If the fuel is contained, it may not be necessary to remove it from the ship,” Vanderlaske said. The collision did not close the ship channel but did block a portion of the waterway while the Coast Guard set up a safety zone around the collision area, Vanderlaske said. Outbound traffic from the port was on hold for some time Wednesday morning until port officials determined whether the FR8 Pride could drift into shipping lanes and pose any danger to passing ships, said Tony Alejandro, operations director for the Port of Corpus Christi.
The FR8 Pride is flagged in the Marshall Islands and was bound for Valero’s docks along the ship channel. Neither Valero, Citgo nor Flint Hills reported any delays to their operations because of slowed shipping traffic.