Bridge hits ship

Bridge damage was estimated at $50 million Bridge damage was estimated at $50 million USCG photograph

NOVEMBER 3, 2014 — Usually it's the other way round. But the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a report on an accident in which a bridge hit a ship — and came off the worst for it.

The incident occurred May 12, 2013 at  0212 EDT. Interlake Steamship Co.'s  bulk carrier Herbert C. Jackson was cleared for passage through the Jefferson Avenue Bridge over the Rouge River about 6 miles southwest of Detroit, Michigan, when, according to the NTSB, "the bridge tender, who was legally intoxicated at the time, lowered the drawbridge, striking the bulk carrier's bow."

Damage to the vessel was estimated at $5,000, damage to the drawbridge, which is a registered historic structure, was estimated at $50 million.

Following the accident, all crew members directly involved in the vessel's operation were tested for alcohol and illegal drugs with negative results. The Coast Guard determined that all of the vessel's equipment was working properly at the time of the accident.

Rouge River police officers responding to the accident observed that the bridge tender appeared to be intoxicated and transported her to a nearby hospital for drug and alcohol testing under county regulations before Coast Guard investigators arrived. The bridge tender's blood alcohol level was found to exceed the legal limit.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the allision of the Herbert C. Jackson with the Jefferson Avenue Bridge was the intoxicated bridge  tender's closing of the drawbridge as the vessel began its transit through the open bridge span.

Note: Although the NTSB classifies the incident as an "allision," it wasn't. Both vessel and bridge were moving. It was a collision.

Read the NTSB report HERE

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