On 11 August 2001, the motor vessel Windoc and the Allanburg Bridge suffered a collision. Ship-bridge collisions are rare, because a true collision requires that both objects be in motion at the time of impact.
The Allanburg Bridge (also referred to as Bridge 11) is a lift bridge over the Welland Canal at Allanburg, Ontario. The Windoc was downbound and passing under the lift span when the span unexpectedly lowered.
The vessel’s wheelhouse and funnel were destroyed. The vessel drifted downstream, caught fire, and grounded approximately 800 meters from the bridge.
The vessel was eventually declared a constructive total loss. The bridge sustained structural damage and the Welland Canal was closed to vessel traffic for two days.
Amazingly, there were no injuries, the master, third mate, and helmsman escaping down a ladder just before impact.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (operator of the bridge) initially denied responsibility, but later paid damages after the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada issued a report (M01C0054) finding that the performance of the individual operating the bridge at the time was “likely impaired” when he lowered the span prematurely. A short, but interesting, video of the collision and its immediate aftermath is also available.
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