‘Out of control’ container ship forces Charleston bridge closure

Authorities reopened the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge on Wednesday afternoon after the scare

Michelle Del Rey
Thursday 06 June 2024 17:51
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Charleston officials address ‘out of control’ container ship that forced bridge closure

The crew of a large container ship lost control of the vessel in South Carolina on Wednesday, causing officials to temporarily close Charleston’s iconic bridge - with memories of the Baltimore bridge collapse still lingering.

The incident happened just after noon Wednesday, Coast Guard Commander Randy Preston said during a news conference. Authorities responded to a report of an “out of control vessel” in the Cooper River near the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge.

Authorities identified the ship as the MSC Michigan Seven, a 997-foot, 74,000-gross ton, Liberian-flag barge. It had been heading outbound from the North Charleston container terminal and was headed to Savannah, Georgia.

The pilot on board the ship lost the ability to control the engines and the crew was stuck full ahead, with the vessel traveling between 14 to 17 knots, meaning that the throttles, a device controlling the flow of power to an engine, were full forward and could not be moved from that position.

Coast Guard boats and other government agency assets were alerted and began clearing channel traffic. As a precaution, authorities closed the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge and evacuated the nearby Fort Moultrie Beach in case the vessel had to intentionally ground.

The crew of a large container ship lost control of the vessel in South Carolina on Wednesday, causing officials to temporarily close the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge
The crew of a large container ship lost control of the vessel in South Carolina on Wednesday, causing officials to temporarily close the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge (Associated Press)

The ship safely passed underneath the structure and the crew eventually regained control of the vessel.

Coast Guard officials cleared the harbor without major incident and the ship is now anchored approximately 8.5 nautical miles offshore, where it will remain until further notice.

Two recreational boaters were pushed onto rocks in the channel due to the ship’s wake and sustained injuries.

Authorities reopened the bridge later in the afternoon. The incident remains under investigation and authorities are inspecting the boat to ensure the barge is in safef condition to continue its journey.

The incident comes two months after a container ship crashed into the Key Bridge in Baltimore, bringing the span down and killing six construction workers.

Preston didn’t want to speculate if a disaster was narrowly avoided but said that “anytime a vessel can’t control its propulsion, it’s concerning.”

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