MARINE ACCIDENT REPORT: U.S. TANKSHIP SS MARINE FLORIDIAN COLLISION WITH BENJAMIN HARRISON MEMORIAL BRIDGE, HOPEWELL, VIRGINIA, FEBRUARY 24, 1977
On February 24, 1977, the SS MARINE FLORIDIAN was downbound on the James River about 2 miles below Hopewell, Virginia. About 500 yards from the Benjamin Harrison highway bridge, the vessel's steering system malfunctioned and the vessel veered to the left (north) of the channel and the raised center span of the bridge. The vessel collided with the support pier between the bridge's northern approach causeway and its northern tower span and continued under the span until the vessel's starboard bridge wing struck the span. The northern end of the span then dropped across the main deck just forward of the aft-located deckhouse. The MARINE FLORIDIAN was maintained in that position until March 6, 1977, when the span, including the northern main tower of the bridge, collapsed onto the vessel and into the river. Total damage to the bridge and the vessel was estimated to be $8,500,000. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was inadequate maintenance and inspection of a manual transfer switch in the electrical circuit that opened by the force of gravity and thus interrupted electric power to the steering motor when the vessel was in a position from which it could not be stopped or steering gear power restored before it collided with the bridge. Contributing to the collision were the operation of the vessel at a speed higher than necessary for a safe passage through the bridge opening, failure of the steering alarm to function, and the absence of a person on watch in the steering engine room, which contributed to the delay in activating the alternate steering engine.
Washington, DC United States 20594
- Publication Date: 1978-1-26
- Pagination: 46 p.
- TRT Terms: Crash investigation; Marine safety; Reports; Tankers; Water transportation crashes
- Geographic Terms: James River (Virginia)
- Old TRIS Terms: Bridge rammings; Marine floridian (Vessel)
- Subject Areas: Marine Transportation; Safety and Human Factors;
- Accession Number: 00649515
- Record Type: Publication
- Source Agency: Maritime Technical Information Facility
- Report/Paper Numbers: NTSB-MAR-78-01
- Files: TRIS
- Created Date: Jul 21 1994 12:00AM