'A bridge collapses, and a vital port expires'

Turns out the 10 ft channel is a shipping channel. A barge full of jet fuel went through today on its way to and airbase in Delaware IIRC. Commerce will be restricted to shallow draft vessels like barges.

‘Dozens of Major Bridges Lack Shields to Block Wayward Ships’

Nice article, if you like bridges. They let me read all of it without a subscription.

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Replacing these fracture critical bridges has been a hot topic for over 20 years but it’s a long process.

Interesting the two of the bridges listed as the scariest ones i have been over. Before the new interstate bridge was opened around Cairo, I’ll, we were routed over the old, long and narrow bridge, pulling a camper no less. That was nothing compared to the four mile long Chesapeake bay bridge. While the wife was in meetings in dc, I took a side trip to Annapolis that I always wanted to see. I paid no attention to the warning signs as I drove east, and there it was. No turning back. The worst was once over it you had to come back. The mackinaw bridge was a piece of cake in comparison.

Back to the key bridge. I have no understanding of the ships propulsion system, but what I am gathering is that if the power goes out, the fuel pumps for the prop, also stops the engine. And while the rudder might also be active, without the wash from the props, you still won’t have steering. Just curious if this is so or not.

More like 40.

I wonder if mandating an accompanying tugboat could be the solution, rather than beefing up the tower shields?

Very dangerous and likely ineffective for tugs when the ship is going 7 knots.

It appears that this is standard operating practice in the Port of NY. Three accompanying tugs managed to bring a large ship under control there, just a few days ago.

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It would have to be more then one for a ship that size with all it’s cargo.

As referenced above, it appears that 3 tugs were accompanying a ship recently in the Port of NY, and they were able to bring the ship back under control when it lost its propulsion.

Adding protection like dolphins is more likely. I’ve read that they are planned for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to prevent ships hitting the bridge.

Cars are an easy ride over the bridge compared to motorcycles. I rode over for a short vacation at Ocean City, MD on my bike. There are metal grades extending the length of the center section. They run down the middle of the lanes and you don’t have to ride on them if you don’t want to, and I didn’t. The back end of the bike wiggles on metal grates and it’s disconcerting, especially at that height. I told myself to just keep going and don’t look down once I paid the toll. I made it without incident. It was a little better from a fear factor point of view on the way home, but still scary.

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Update: I saw on the local news this morning that two channels are open and the 50 ft channel should be open by the end of May. The port will be fully open then. In the meantime smaller ships that can use a 35 ft channel can use the Port of Baltimore and the Tradepoint Atlantic terminal has always been unencumbered sine it’s on the Chesapeake Bay. I saw pictures of a RoRo unloading Mitsubishi cars at the terminal.

Seems like both would be best. A single point failure is never good. A couple tugs could be very effective if they are in continuous contact with the ship the entire time. It takes a lot less energy to nudge the ship if it starts deviating than it does to correct it once the vector is further off. Kind of like the rock rolling downhill. Your job is to stop it from causing damage. Would you rather be at the top of the hill or the bottom? :grinning:

Probably need at least four tugboats, two for each side. The tugs would have to push the big boats and not pull them. I envision one near the bow and the other near the stern and repeated a port and starboard.

Too dangerous for the tugs at 7 knots though. They’d have to slow the ship down quite a bit. I didn’t realize what could go wrong pulling a ship but evidently it is a dangerous job. Like a spec in comparison to a container ship.

There needs to be a warning system with a siren and lights. The ship pilot would have a device to activate it using a radio signal.

Radioing back to port, having the port contact the police, then having a police officer drive the the location to close the takes too much time. There happened to be a police officer near by in this case, and there was no traffic on the roads.

Somebody said my idea would cost more than I said, when I said that a warning system would cost thousands and barriers for the bridge would cost millions. I guess If I could do the project for $30,000, the government could do it for $300,000, and NASA could do it for $3,000,000.

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I believe the vessel is a Panamax vessel so some basic information

“Generally, a Panamax vessel ranges from 50,000 to 80,000 deadweight tons (DWTs). Regarding
physical dimensions, these vessels are normally 965 feet long, with a 106-foot beam, and
a 39.5 -foot draft. For containers, a Panamax vessel can carry up to 4,500 twenty foot
equivalent units (TEUs).”

Although powerful, the role of the Harbor Tug are to generally ease an almost stationary vessel alongside the dock and my understanding is that the current cost is about $15,000.

My point is that it would quite a few tugs and a lot of luck to bring a ship that massive, moving at 10 MPH under control in that short distance and the cost of all those tugs escorting every ship through the Key Bridge and the the Bay Bridge would be cost prohibitive. .

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I agree. Also, there are not enough tugs available to escort every container ship in and out of port. Better strategy would be to add protection around bridge supports where needed (and to not have these kinds of breakdowns, obviously).

Just to veer off a little back to driving over those bridges, I ran across a YouTube last night interviewing a driver for a crossing service. It was late and I was tired so didn’t spend a lotnofbtimenon it. The bridge sure looked like the bay bridge. At any rate said they get all types, tall men with their CDLl, women, cycle drivers etc. that use their service. Lay down in the back and cover up with a blanket while they get driven across. Like to get 24 hour notice but respond to emergencies.

I’ve heard of this before but have no idea how often it happens but the guy spends his days driving people across. Must be some kind of masochist. Had a room mate in AIT that claimed he did this in Houston but turned out it was all BS. He was probably the one under the blanket. Not a good time to quit smoking though when you get across and have to come back. Just best to look straight ahead and not take in the sights.

My dad was a private pilot and my mom was scared of heights. She’d go nuts driving through the mountains with him looking all around at the scenery and her pressing on her imaginary brake pedal telling him to slow down. :sweat_smile:

My point is- you don’t let it get going 7 knots until it’s clear of the bridge going out. It’s like a no wake zone. That doesn’t mean zero wake. It means a boat should not travel faster than it needs to maintain steerage. With a couple-four tugs escorting ships from port to past the bridge and incoming ships just past the bridge all day long is probably way cheaper than a new bridge. And no faster than controlled steering speed for vessels than can breach the safety barrier…

I am confident the NTSB (or whatever government agency is in control of the ports) will make recommendations about changes in procedure. I am also confident there will be a lot of back and forth between that agency and shipping companies. I’m also confident there will be a lot of monday-morning-quarterbacks questioning everything - including some on this website!

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