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South Carolina collision scare: Out-of-control cargo ship forces closure of iconic Ravenel Bridge (WATCH)

Despite the vessel, measuring nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) and traveling at nearly 20 mph (32 km/h), harbor pilots managed to guide it safely under the Ravenel Bridge.

South Carolina collision scare: Out-of-control cargo ship forces closure of iconic Ravenel Bridge (WATCH) snt
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First Published Jun 6, 2024, 10:24 AM IST

A massive cargo vessel lost control of its engines and surged at nearly full throttle through a harbor in South Carolina on Wednesday, triggering the closure of one of the state's busiest bridges.

Despite the vessel, measuring nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) and traveling at nearly 20 mph (32 km/h), harbor pilots managed to guide it safely under the Ravenel Bridge. It was eventually anchored several miles offshore while the US Coast Guard conducts an investigation, according to Randy Preston, commander of the Coast Guard's Charleston Section.

Authorities cleared traffic, cyclists, and pedestrians from the eight-lane bridge prior to the ship's passage, ensuring its closure for approximately 10 minutes. The vessel, named Michigan 7, passed underneath without incident, although its wake caused minor damage by knocking a small boat aground and resulting in minor injuries to two individuals, Preston noted.

Registered in Liberia to the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the ship was en route from Charleston's port to Savannah, Georgia. The company did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment.

“I don’t want to speculate on it becoming a disaster, but any time a vessel can’t control its propulsion, it’s concerning,” Preston said at a news conference.

On March 26, an uncontrollable cargo vessel collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after experiencing a power loss, resulting in the collapse of the span and tragically claiming the lives of six construction workers.

Engineers reassured the public that the design of the Ravenel Bridge differed significantly and could endure a comparable impact. Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, authorities opted to close the bridge upon confirming the ship's loss of control.

Charleston Police Chief Chito Walker highlighted the swift response of police officers who provided transportation to pedestrians and cyclists crossing the bridge, ensuring their prompt evacuation to safety. Within minutes, the bridge was cleared of all individuals.

“The communication was pristine in this situation from top to bottom,” Walker said.

After clearing the bridge, the ship's crew managed to regain control and successfully halted, anchoring approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the coast, as reported by Preston.

The cable-stayed Ravenel Bridge, inaugurated in 2005, accommodates approximately 100,000 vehicles daily. Its main deck stands at a height of 186 feet (57 meters) above the Cooper River, with towers soaring to 575 feet (175 meters) above the waterline. Engineers have attested to its robust design, capable of withstanding wind gusts of up to 300 mph (483 km/h), surpassing the intensity of any hurricane on record.

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