Page 33: of Marine News Magazine (January 2021)

Passenger Vessels

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What’s happened since that recommendation was made last January?

Some initial next steps were report- edly started by an existing regional safety working group.

One move was to contact of? cials at Port Houston, which has three ? re- boats in service along the Houston

Ship Channel. S-N of? cials wanted advice and recommendations based on Port Houston’s experience. What was that advice? Hard to tell. S-N of- ? cials would not provide details about the meetings and Houston of? cials did not respond to inquiries.

Bottom line: this all remains unset- tled. Larry Fountain is District Opera- tions Manager for the Sabine Neches

Navigation District. “We really haven’t made any progress on furthering the ? re boat,” he said, “due largely to the COVID pandemic.” There is no timeline to complete this investigatory work. Funding issues are unresolved.

Apparently, there was initial discussion about using some of the revenue from the S-N vessel transit fee to pay for new equipment and, of course, ongo- ing personnel and operating costs.

Now consider the Port of

Plaquemines, on the Mississippi, 20 miles south of New Orleans.

Plaquemines has signi? cant ? reboat ca- pabilities, ready 24/7. The Port has two 57-foot vessels called Authority I and

Authority II, each crewed by two ? re- ? ghters and ready to go in 2-3 minutes.

These boats started service in 2015 and 2016. They replaced older, smaller ver- sions from the 1970s. The newer boats are faster, they can pump 6,000 gallons per minute, have remote ? re? ghting 156,033 operations and positive pressure cabins. MN 33|

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