HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ports from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, including Houston, were shut Friday due to Hurricane Ike, officials of the U.S. Coast Guard and pilots groups said.
Ships’ pilots stopped moving vessels in the port of Corpus Christi Thursday night, although the Coast Guard had not officially shut that port. The Coast Guard closed Houston-Galveston, Beaumont-Port Arthur and Lake Charles.
The ports are key corridors for crude oil, petroleum products and petrochemicals. Houston also is a key container import terminal.
A freighter with 22 crew on board lost propulsion Friday near the path of Hurricane Ike, and the Coast Guard was monitoring but unable to help immediately, a spokesman said. Helicopters had to turn back due to winds.
A Coast Guard jet has flown over the vessel, the 584-foot-long coke carrier
Antalina, and reported the ship in good shape, pointed into the wind as is desirable and the crew okay as of 2 p.m. CDT (1400 GMT), a spokesman said.
“We’re going to be constantly reassessing their situation and what we can do to help,” a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The Antalina, fully loaded with petroleum coke, lost power 90 miles southeast of Galveston after leaving Port Arthur to try to escape the storm, officials said.
Big ships tend to prefer running from storms at sea rather than staying in port, but being at sea without power in a storm can be disastrous, shipping veterans said.
Reporting by Bruce Nichols