Atlantic Boat and Marine News and Information
Captain's License Suspended Over Bridge Collision
BEAUFORT, SC (01/16/08) --

The Coast Guard suspended the license of Captain Wright Gres yesterday over the collision of a barge crane with the J. E. McTeer Bridge last April. Captain Gres was at the helm of the tug Sara Kaitlin when a crane on the barge she had under tow struck the underside of the bridge 65 feet or more off the water. The collision shut down one of only two evacuation routes from Lady's Island just a month before hurricane season and repairs ran more than 2 million dollars.

Moving the rig from Charleston to Savannah, the crane had already passed under several other bridges along the Intracoastal Waterway with 65 foot clearances. The crane had been used somewhere between Edisto and Beaufort, however, and the crane operator apparently failed to lower the boom to its previous height.

Announcing its findings, the coast guard said the captain failed to complete a thorough voyage plan and maintain situational awareness during the trip, especially the crane's vertical height as it related to the charted clearance of the overhead structures the rig would be passing under. In addition to the six month license suspension, the Coast Guard recommended the tug's owner, Savannah Marine Services, be fined up to $75,000 for negligent operations.


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