Dredger Catches Fire in Corpus Christi Ship Channel

exploding dredge
Image courtesy USCG

Published Aug 21, 2020 3:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

The dredger Waymon L. Boyd suffered a major fire and explosion Friday morning in the Port of Christi Ship Channel, injuring two crewmembers. Four crewmembers remain missing, and local firefighters evacuated four additional personnel for medical treatment.

Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi was notified at 0812 hours of eyewitness reports of a fire in the Port of Corpus Christi. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was dispatched to the scene, and they hoisted two injured crewmembers and transferred them to Corpus Christi Medical Center. They have been transported onwards to Brooke Army Medical Center's burn unit in San Antonio, according to local KRIS 6 TV news.

Images courtesy USCG

Lieutenant Marina Lyons (USCG) told local outlets that the dredger likely struck a submerged pipeline. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also described the blast as a "pipeline explosion" in a statement Friday morning. 

"The State of Texas is working closely with local partners in Corpus Christi as well as the Coast Guard to assist with emergency response efforts following the explosion. Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas Department of Public Safety personnel are already on the ground to provide support, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is monitoring air quality in the area," said the governor. "The state stands ready to provide any additional personnel and resources needed to address this event and keep Texans in the area safe."

A helicopter crew, two Station Port Aransas response boat crews, a boat crew from the Cutter Chinook and a boat crew from the Cutter Manta are on scene. Assets from the Port of Corpus Christi Police and Fire departments and tugs belonging to Suderman & Young Towing Company are also assisting the response and search effort.

As a precautionary measure, Corpus Christi's inner harbor was temporarily closed from the Harbor Bridge inward.