Container Ship Loses Control in Charleston, Prompts Bridge Closure

The container ship MSC Michigan VII experienced engine failure, accelerating to dangerous speeds on the Cooper River in Charleston. Concerned officials closed the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and deployed response boats to ensure safety. Despite minor injuries to boaters and coastal damage, the vessel navigated through the channel at high speed. The Coast Guard has ordered the ship to remain at anchor for inspection.
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On Wednesday, the container ship MSC Michigan VII lost control of its main engine and accelerated to 17 knots on the Cooper River in Charleston, South Carolina, prompting the temporary closure of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. After departing the North Charleston Container Terminal, the vessel rapidly accelerated, reaching speeds five knots faster than its previous inbound transit. Concerned about the potential impact on the bridge, officials in Charleston took the incident seriously, closing traffic lanes and clearing the path for the speeding ship.

Response boats from multiple agencies were deployed to warn boaters and clear the shipping channel, while local police closed and cleared traffic lanes on the Ravenel Bridge to ensure the safety of pedestrians and bikers. The Michigan safely navigated through the channel at high speed and anchored offshore for inspection, with the bridge reopening once the ship passed underneath. Despite no harm to the bridge, two boaters sustained minor injuries and minor damage was reported along the shore.

The Coast Guard issued a captain of the port order for the Michigan to remain at anchor until further notice, and is investigating the propulsion issue. The vessel, managed by MSC and acquired in October 2022, had previous inspection issues in February related to steering gear and auxiliary generators, which were rectified with assistance from the class society. The successful coordination between maritime partners and law enforcement helped ensure a safe outcome despite the vessel’s loss of control.

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