Houston channel expansion project could mean safer passage

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2020 | Maritime Law

Collisions between vessels and other maritime accidents often lead to extensive property damage for the shipping industry as well as serious injuries for workers. One way to reduce the risk of accidents and vessel collisions is to improve route efficiency and reduce traffic in busy waterways.

The Houston Ship Channel is the busiest channel in the United States, particularly for foreign trade and energy, according to a new initiative to expand the channel. As the industry flourishes, traffic may soon outgrow the channel, which could increase the risk of accidents and collisions. The channel expansion initiative aims to create a safer route by deepening and widening the waterway.

Potential benefits of channel expansion

Advocacy of the Houston Ship Channel expansion initiative centers on several key benefits:

  • Allowing longer and larger ships to safely navigate the channel, reducing one-way traffic
  • Reducing the necessity of lightering and cargo transfers, which may also reduce the risk of accidents during the transferal process
  • Avoiding the need for ships to perform dangerous navigation techniques that require considerable skill when approaching in opposite directions

The initiative has yet to gain approval from Congress and would be a large project spanning several years until completion. However, it already highlights how the hazards of a waterway can potentially cause significant damage to shippers and crews.

Regardless of the waterway, accident prevention is essential

Vessel owners and companies have a responsibility to protect workers from accidents that could cause major injuries. When a waterway presents complications, companies and vessel owners must be ready to address them properly. From providing training for careful lightering techniques to preventing fatigue, there are many ways for shipping employers to keep their crew safe.