NTSB: Pilot caused Houston Ship Channel collision

September 26, 2012 2:10:08 AM PDT
Federal investigators have concluded that pilot error caused the collision of a chemical tanker with a containership in the Houston Ship Channel in October 2011.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a Tuesday statement that the collision of the tanker Elka Apollon and the container ship MSC Nederland "was likely caused by the inappropriate response of the pilot" controlling the tanker. Also factoring was the combination of a narrow waterway and dense marine traffic.

The NTSB urged the Coast Guard to become "more proactive" in keeping vessels adequately separated in higher-risk sections of the channel. The collision happened where the Bayport and Houston ship channels intersect.

Capt. Robert Thompson of the Houston Pilots disputed the finding of pilot fault, saying the proximity of another vessel factored in the collision.