An investigation is underway after the crew briefly loses control of the container ship, forcing the temporary closure of the Charleston Bridge


A major bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, was temporarily closed Wednesday afternoon after a crew lost control of a large container ship after it left port.

The U.S. Coast Guard was alerted to an “out of control vessel” in the Cooper River around 12:17 a.m. Wednesday, Coast Guard Sector Charleston Deputy Commander Randy Preston said at a news conference Wednesday. Authorities rushed to clear boaters from the ship’s path and closed the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge before the ship passed underneath.

“The Ravenel Bridge is closed in all directions as a vessel reportedly loses propulsion,” Charleston police wrote a message on X.

Shortly before the ship lost propulsion, it had been nearly at full speed, Preston explained. This caused the ship to move at a strong speed.

“The pilot on board indicated that the ship lost control of the engines and they were stuck almost full ahead while the ship was making between 14 and 17 knots,” Preston said.

The ship passed safely under the bridge and did not hit any of the bridge supports. Eventually the crew was able to regain control of the engines and anchored the ship approximately 13.5 nautical miles offshore.

While Preston could not explain how close the ship came to the bridge, he noted that “anytime a ship cannot control its propulsion, it is concerning.” But, Preston added, “it turned out well and that’s thanks to our intense partnerships and coordination.”

The Ravenel Bridge, a two and a half mile long bridge with a main span of 1,500 feet long, is a major artery connecting Charleston to Mount Pleasant.

Coast Guard crews are en route to the ship to investigate the incident.

The ship, MSC Michigan 7, is about 1,000 feet long and weighed 74,000 gross tons and was headed to Savannah, Georgia, according to Preston. The ship has been ordered to remain at anchor until further notice.

Two recreational boaters in the area were pushed onto some rocks by the ship’s wake and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

There were also reports of minor damage along the ship’s route. Inspectors carried out damage analyzes throughout the port.

In addition to Charleston Police temporarily closing the Ravenel Bridge to traffic and pedestrians around 12:41 p.m., Fort Moultrie Beach was evacuated as a precaution in case the ship had to be grounded.

Local authorities can be heard on radio traffic discussing the incident and working to close the bridge.

“We just received a report of a large tanker, MSC Michigan 7, currently sailing down the Cooper River, they have lost propulsion and they are concerned they may be running into the Ravenal Bridge,” one man is heard saying.

“You said they were out of propulsion, and they might hit the Ravenel?” you hear a woman say.

“Yes ma’am, that has been confirmed, we have to close the Ravenel Bridge,” the man replied.

The bridge reopened after the ship passed safely under it, according to a U.S. Coast Guard news release.

The incident comes just over two months after a £213 million freighter left the Port of Baltimore and crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, killing six construction workers.

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