Texas oil spill: Recorded moments before impact

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

GALVESTON, Texas - Local 2 Investigates has obtained the "captain to captain" conversation that took place via two-way radio just before the ship channel collision March 22.

"If you keep on coming, I'm going to get you," the Captain of the M/V Summer Wind, a cargo ship told the Captain of the T/V Miss Susan, a tugboat.

At that point, the Summer Wind was 3/4 mile from the Miss Susan. It appears to be the first conversation between the captains. Their vessles would collide approximately five minutes later.

Federal investigators have not yet assigned blame in the accident that dumped 168,000 gallons of oil into the Ship Channel water.

The tugboat was crossing the the Houston Ship Channel waterway occupied by the Summer Wind when the collision occurred.

"Right now I'm less than a 3/4 mile from you and you ain't even got to the Channel yet," The Summer Wind captain said.

Both captains appear to acknowledge they are on a collision course once the communication starts.

"There is communication. Was it early? No," Steven Nerheim, Director of the USCG Vessel Traffic Service of Houston/Galveston, said.

Nerhaim's team advises vessel captains in real time about traffic and weather conditions in and around the ship channel.

The operator working the day of the accident did not advise either captain about the collision course.

"We are not nearly the same thing as air traffic controllers," Nerheim said.

The duty to plot courses, and the responsibility to avoid collisions rests with vessel captains, Nerheim said.

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