HOUSTON: FISH CAUSING SEA CHEST CLOGGING
Local correspondents have advised that loss or reduction in propulsion continues to occur in the Houston Ship Channel. An investigation of ships’ sea chests showed that the strainers were blocked with Menhadens, a smallish, flat, oily fish common to the Gulf of Mexico.
Menhaden can be present all year round, with the heaviest periods between April to October. These fish can clog sea chest strainers and restrict the flow of sea water cooling, increasing the cooling water temperature and resulting in slowdown of the engines, not only while transiting, but also while the ship is alongside a berth. This has led to a loss of propulsion, manoeuvrability, generator power or other seawater safety systems.
The USCG Marine Safety Information Bulletin MSIB 10-18 issued by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston which highlights this issue and recommends best practices to reduce the risk.