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Full Throttle Cargo Ship Causes Temporary Closure of Major South Carolina Bridge

Cargo ship under bridge

Ship at Full Throttle in Harbor Results in Temporary Bridge Closure in South Carolina

Published June 5, 2024

Early Wednesday evening, a large cargo ship lost engine control while navigating through a harbor in South Carolina. Forced to proceed at nearly full throttle, the ship brought about significant shifts in normalcy, leading to the unprecedented closure of Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, one of the busiest bridges in the state.

Quick Action Prevents Potential Disaster

Undeterred by the 1000-foot vessel’s unexpected speed of approximately 20 mph, harbor pilots managed to pilot the ship safely under the bridge. The ship was securely anchored offshore, where it currently awaits inspection from the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Randy Preston, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Charleston Section.

Temporary Closures and Minor Injuries

In preparation for the Michigan 7’s arrival, police took decisive action to clear the eight-lane bridge of vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. The resulting closure lasted a mere ten minutes, resuming once the ship had safely navigated the path beneath. Though this incident didn’t result in significant structural damage, the ship’s wake did knock a small boat aground, causing minor injuries to two individuals.

Moving Forward

The ship, which currently sails under the Liberia flag for the Mediterranean Shipping Company, set its initial course from Charleston’s port towards Savannah, Georgia. While it remains uncertain what caused this incident, the ship’s crew managed to regain control shortly after passing the bridge. They managed to halt the vessel and establish an anchorage about 10 miles from the coast.

Experts Reassure About Bridge Safety

After an out-of-control cargo ship in Baltimore brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge earlier this year, engineers were quick to assure Charleston residents of their bridge’s comparative safety. The Ravenel Bridge, unlike its ill-fated counterpart, was designed to withstand such impacts. Despite this, due caution was exercised, resulting in the preemptive bridge closure during the ship’s rogue passage.

Effective Coordination Ensures Safety

Charleston Police Chief Chito Walker lauded their swift response and operation, ensuring the bridge was devoid of pedestrians and vehicular traffic within just a few minutes. About 100,000 vehicles cross the cable-stayed Ravenel Bridge daily, the safety of which was ensured by the rapid and effective communication between all involved parties.

Technical Aspects of the Ravenel Bridge

Opened in 2005, the Ravenel Bridge is supported by towers standing 575 feet above the water, with its main deck elevated 186 feet above the Cooper River. Engineers have designed this structure to withstand wind gusts up to 300 mph, effectively bracing it against any hurricane in recorded history.


Full Throttle Cargo Ship Causes Temporary Closure of Major South Carolina Bridge

HERE Irmo
Author: HERE Irmo

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