U.S. TANKSHIP SS MARINE FLORIDIAN COLLISION WITH BENJAMIN HARRISON MEMORIAL BRIDGE, HOPEWELL, VIRGINIA, FEBRUARY 24, 1977. MARINE ACCIDENT REPORT

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 of the channel and the raised center span on the bridge, and collided with the northern tower span. The northern end of the span dropped across the main deck just forward of the aft-located deckhouse. On March 6, 1977, the span, including the northern main tower of the bridge collpased 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 which 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 cause of the collision was 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 engineroom which contributed to the delay in activating the alternate steering engine.

  • Corporate Authors:

    National Transportation Safety Board

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  USA  20594
  • Publication Date: 1978-1-26

Media Info

  • Pagination: 45 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00173643
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Transportation Safety Board
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NTSB-MAR-78-1
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 26 1978 12:00AM