'Really Scary': Major Bridge Shut Down Due to 'Runaway' Cargo Ship


Charleston, South Carolina’s Arthur Ravenel Bridge became the latest such structure to be evacuated because of an out-of-control ship Wednesday, two months after the container ship Dali lost power and crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, destroying the bridge and killing six construction workers.

The situation in on the Cooper River was not as damaging but just as frightening, at least initially, when the U.S. Coast Guard put out the warning that a container ship leaving the harbor had lost control of its engines, according to WCSC-TV.

The Harbor Pilots Dispatch contacted the Coast Guard shortly after noon on Wednesday to inform them that the pilot on board the MSC Michigan said the ship was at “nearly full throttle” and that the engine controls were stuck there.

The ship was moving 14 to 17 knots, the outlet reported, headed from North Charleston for Savannah, Georgia.

“Our sector command center folks immediately started coordinating with our local partners to include launching our own vessels to clear vessel traffic out of the way of the container ship and also coordination with the local police departments to ensure traffic on the Ravenel Bridge was stopped ensuring that the public was safe,” Coast Guard Sector Charleston Deputy Cmdr. Randy Preston told WCSC.

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Vessels from the Coast Guard and other agencies sped ahead of the Michigan to clear a pathway for it, and police shut down traffic on the Ravenel Bridge in case of a collision.

“Fort Moultrie Beach was also evacuated in case the ship needed to ground,” the outlet reported.

“We were doing a normal run from Waterfront Park to Charleston Maritime Center Aquarium Wharf, and we just heard chatter on the radio,” Iris Duke, the captain for Charleston Water Taxi, said.

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“We turned it up because we heard ‘Mayday’ and then we heard ‘Runaway ship,’ so we kind of cruised out there,” she added.

Two recreational boaters were injured when the wake from the speeding Michigan pushed their boat onto the rocks. They were rescued and taken to a local hospital with what WCSC said were non-life-threatening injuries.

Cyclist Lisa Riente told WCBD-TV that she was crossing the bridge when police stopped her, told her to leave her bike where it was and get in their car.

“I threw my bike down, grabbed my phone, and jumped in the back of the police car with a couple of other pedestrians and it was kind of scary,” Riente told the station. “We were going across the bridge trying to get other pedestrians and warn them that there was an out-of-control boat headed towards the bridge.”

WCBD described the Michigan as a 997-foot, 74,000-ton ship.

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Charleston Police Chief Chito Walker told the outlet that the Ravenel Bridge did not suffer any damage from the incident.

Eventually, the ship’s crew was able to resolve the issue with the engine control and get it clear of the harbor and anchored about 8.5 nautical miles offshore.

“Anytime a vessel can’t control its propulsion it’s concerning. But thanks to our partners, our maritime partners, our local law enforcement partners, it turned out well and that’s due to our intense partnership and coordination,” Preston said.

The Coast Guard continues to investigate the incident, several outlets noted.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics