Massive cargo ship leaving Staten Island stalls near Bayonne Bridge

Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Container ship tugged to safety after losing power near Bayonne Bridge
NJ Burkett has the details.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A massive freighter was leaving the Staten Island waterfront -- about to pass beneath the Bayonne Bridge when Coast Guard officials say it suddenly stalled out.

Qingdao is a 1,000-foot long container ship. It somehow lost its propulsion shortly after it got underway, preventing its captain from controlling it. It happened in a narrow shipping channel, with very little room to maneuver.

"It's a very tight waterway. You have the Bayonne Bridge right there. And right near that point, near the Bayonne Bridge, the ship lost power," Maritime journalist John Konrad said.

The ship was being escorted by three tugs, but experts say they needed three more to keep the massive ship on course. They towed it roughly six miles to an anchorage, just north of the Verrazzano Bridge.

It happened at 8:30 on Friday night. Konrad posted a picture on social media, where the ship was secured long enough to fix the problem and for the Coast Guard to ensure that, "the necessary repairs have been completed and the propulsion system is fully operational."

The incident is eerily similar to the breakdown that caused the catastrophe in Baltimore, when a freighter plowed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge last month. But that ship was unescorted when it lost power. Qingdao only lost propulsion. The bridge was likely not at risk.

What's more? The incident was watched and the response was managed in real-time by a marine traffic control center-something they don't have in Baltimore and in most other US ports.

"The bottom line lesson to learn here is: New York does it right. Can we get federal funding to do what New York does in other ports around the country?" Konrad said.

How often do freighters lose power-or, in this case, propulsion? The fact is, we don't know because the government doesn't keep statistics and investigations are the exception and not the rule.

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