April 2, 2013

Maine-NH bridge supports damaged by tanker

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

KITTERY — The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, connecting Maine and New Hampshire, will be closed for several days because of an accident Monday in which a 470-foot tanker drifted from its moorings and hit the bridge.

click image to enlarge

Tugboats seen in this aerial photograph hold the Harbour Feature in place against the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Kittery on Monday, after the tanker snapped its mooring lines at the New Hampshire State Pier in Portsmouth, N.H.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The incoming tide presses the tanker Harbour Feature against the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in the Piscataqua River Monday.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

SHIP DETAILS

For Harbour Feature, including its size and last known port, click here.

The accident Monday afternoon on the Piscataqua River damaged bridge supports and left a 20-foot dent in the ship's side. The Coast Guard said there was no puncture to the ship and no fuel spilled into the water. The tanker was carrying tall oil – or tallow – made from wood pulp, and yellow grease, said Lt. Nick Barrow, a Coast Guard spokesman.

"We were ready for the worst case and had teams ready, but thankfully we didn't need that," Barrow said.

The tanker got pinned against the bridge with the rising tide of the tidal river, the Associated Press reported. Tugboats moved the vessel away from the bridge Monday evening between high and low tides, when currents were minimal.

The bridge will be closed for several days, said N.H. Department of Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement.

It will remain closed into Tuesday and possibly longer so crews can inspect the structural damage and determine what repairs are necessary, Bill Boynton, another spokesman for the department.

Clement said the bridge sustained damage to both vertical supports. Chunks of granite from the supports fell off and ended up on the deck of the ship.

"That's granite, real New Hampshire granite, that broke," Clement said. "There was broken granite on the ship's deck when it came in."

Clement said the ship's owners will be responsible for the cost of repairing the damage. He declined to estimate the cost.

The bridge is owned by Maine and New Hampshire.

The ship was being refueled when it began to move from the New Hampshire State Pier in Portsmouth, N.H., snapped its mooring lines and drifted for five minutes before hitting the bridge.

"Nothing at the facility failed," said Port Director Geno Marconi. "I can't say whose fault it was."

The ship started to drift around 1:30 p.m. It was eventually tugged back to the dock around 6 p.m.

Pepperell Cove Marine, the company that's responsible for tying up the ships, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Marconi said a scrap metal and road salt facility closed for the day because of the marine traffic disruption.

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, which is not open to pedestrians or cyclists, carries about 14,000 vehicles per day.

With the bridge closed because of the collision, the Interstate 95 bridge is the only route across the Piscataqua River between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H.

Nearby, a new Memorial Bridge is under construction.

While the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is closed to vehicular and marine traffic, small boats can traverse the river through another opening in the bridge.

The 73-year-old bridge, which carries traffic along the Route 1 Bypass, is scheduled for demolition in 2015.

In January, its center span got stuck open during a routine test when an electrical malfunction prompted one of the lift motors to keep running.

According to Marinetraffic.com, the ship, the Harbour Feature, was built in 2011 to carry oil and chemicals. Its last port of call was Savannah, Ga.

The ship sails under the Portuguese flag. The shipping agent is listed as Nordic Tankers, based in Denmark. A person who answered the phone at Nordic Tankers' office in Stamford, Conn., said "no comment" when asked about the ship.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

An aerial photo shows the tanker Harbor Feature sitting sideways in the Piscataqua River after hitting the Sarah Long Bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H., on Monday.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A tanker rests against the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge at 2:08 p.m. on Monday.

 


Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)