The Sarah Long Bridge, which connects New Hampshire and Maine over the Piscataqua River, remains closed to vehicles after a tanker ship crashed into it on Monday.
According to WMUR in New Hampshire, the 473-foot ship was somehow disconnected from its home pier and floated down the river before colliding with the bridge. New Hampshire Department of Transportation commissioner Chris Clement told the news source that the structure suffered severe damage in the crash.
Coast guard officials have said that the ship in question, the Harbor Feature, was carrying tallow oil and yellow grease when it was loosed from its housing. The ship had docked at around noon and was awaiting refueling when, for unknown reasons, it began moving.
"Something caused the vessel to get off of the dock a little bit, and with the strong tidal current, pressure on the lines and the lines started to break," director of Ports and Harbor Geno Marconi told the news source.
While cars have been barred from crossing the bridge, other nautical vessels were cleared to pass under the the structure once tug boats had moved the Harbor Feature enough to unblock the passage.
Inspectors were sent in on Monday to make a full assessment of the damage to both the bridge and the vessel. According to the news source, the Harbor Feature's hull was breached above the water line. Fortunately, no water was taken on and no oil was spilled into the river.
This incident is evidence of the types of unexpected threats that exist for cargo companies that use water transportation. The extent of the damage to the ship and the structure will be costly to the parties at fault, which is why it's encouraged for all private and commercial operators to seek out marine insurance for all watercraft, from speedboats to oil tankers.