Situated on the gulf coast in Texas, Galveston is a thriving maritime city located along Galveston and Pelican Island. The Port of Galveston, also referred to as the Galveston Wharves, spreads out over 850 acres and includes a passenger cruise terminal, cargo facilities, shipping lines, and more. The port provides a myriad of seamen with careers in the maritime work sector. Although the work can be lucrative, there are numerous accidents and injuries among seaman in Galveston, many of which could have easily been prevented if not for employer negligence and carelessness.
Galveston Accidents and Injuries
Many of the accidents in Galveston have occurred due to unseaworthy vessels. Under federal and state maritime laws, employers must ensure that seamen are provided safe conditions and a seaworthy vessel while working. Vessel owners must also ensure that the ship is safe and that seamen, as well as passengers, are safe.Unfortunately, these laws, whether intentional or not, have been broken. For example, in 2013, after departing from the Galveston port, the Triumph cruise ship’s engine caught on fire while at sea. A total of 4,000 people, including seamen and passengers, were on the ship. After several in-depth investigations, it was determined that Carnival Cruise Lines was well aware of leaks in the engine’s fuel hose, yet neglected to repair it before going to sea.
Sadly, these types of accidents have happened for decades in Galveston. In 1947, a crew of longshoremen were loading cargo onto the Grandcamp vessel. When a little over 2,000 tons were loaded, eight of longshoremen started to smell smoke. Several other longshoremen saw smoke vapors coming from inside the ship. They began to remove some of the cargo when a fire started on the vessel. As they attempted to put the fire out, the flames spread further out. The local fire department was dispatched, yet heat spread under the vessel’s hatches spread so fast that the firefighters were unable to stop the flames.
Some of the cargo on the vessel included ammunition and ammonium nitrate. Although a few seaman tried to remove the ammunition, it was a futile attempt as they were only able to remove a few boxes. The rest of the crew evacuated the vessel. However, the vessel began to explode, sending ammonium nitrate up to 3,000 feet in the air. A myriad of seamen, pedestrians, and bystanders were killed as fireballs hit them. A total of 27 firefighters were also caught and killed in the flame, marking a total death count of 581 people. Although the cause is still unknown, many speculate the fire was due to an unseaworthy vessel.
Resources for Injured Seamen in Galveston
As aforementioned, federal and state maritime laws protect seamen in the event of an accident that leads to injuries. If you’ve been injured while at work, you have the legal right to obtain maintenance and cure benefits. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another party, you also have the legal right to file a cause of action against your employer. For additional resources on what you may be entitled to, see our articles Jones Act Lawyer and Maritime Rights and Compensation.