As the fourth-largest city and second-busiest overall port in the United States, the Port of Houston sees a staggering amount of traffic both professional and recreational. Whether you’re there for work, play, or both, if you need a maritime lawyer in Houston, O’Bryan Law is the name you should know.*
Thanks to its size, Houston sees a large amount of traffic from companies from all over the world. European automotive manufacturers Volkswagen and Audi import their vehicles exclusively through the Port of Houston, and companies as varied as Shell Oil and Michelin Tire have exclusive ports within Houston for both the import and export of goods to America and areas abroad. Exportation is also a huge business in Houston; traffic to countries such as Mexico, Brazil, China, and even the Netherlands passes through Houston from industries like petroleum, computers and electronics, and even chemicals. The advantageous location and port design of the Port of Houston have pushed Houston to the top exportation port in America, even ahead of New York.
Unfortunately, the size of the port and the traffic going through Houston means accidents can – and do – happen. An earlier incarnation of the port known as the Houston Ship Channel was the site of some 700 accidents between 1969 and 1972 due to the number of boats navigating through. More recent accidents include collisions between ships and port equipment, such as bridges and cranes, have increased in recent months. Collisions between boats have also taken an upturn over the past few years, including a crash resulting in a Dutch chemical tanker spilling a possibly harmful fuel additive into the port.
Despite all the professional traffic navigating its waterways, Houston still has plenty to offer for the amatuer or recreational boater. Texas’ state parks operate plenty of lakes and bodies of water throughout the Houston area, and Lake Houston is considered one of the best freshwater fishing spots in America due to its plentiful catfish and largemouth bass populations. For anyone interested in taking a tour of the port itself, the Port Authority offers a 90-minute tour aboard the Sam Houston which goes around the Houston Ship Channel. As the port is closed to recreational traffic, this is the best chance for anyone curious to get a better view of the port and its operations.
Houston and its waterways have much to offer, whether you’re working on the water, unloading cargo at the docks, or just enjoying a day out on the lake with your yacht or speedboat. But accidents can happen, and if you need an experienced Jones Act attorney to represent your maritime law case in court, no one will fight harder for you than O’Bryan Law.
*Dennis M. O’Bryan is admitted to the bar of the federal district court in Houston, as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which hears appeals from the district courts in Texas. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, where his office is located.