Fishermen and strollers enjoying the first warm day in weeks along the Delaware River got a rude surprise Wednesday: an almost-out-of-control ship careening toward them on the New Jersey bank, grounding just hundreds of yards from the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.
The 623’x106′ Agia Irini, a bulk carrier ship of 33,044 tons displacement, had been heading south down the river at around 6.3 knots and drawing 32′ when it lost propulsion, according to the Coast Guard and vessel tracking records at MarineTraffic.com.
Witnesses told Channel 6, ABC‘s Philadelphia affiliate station, how they were on the riverfront around 2 p.m. and looked up to see the ship suddenly swerving to port — apparently a full rudder maneuver to ground the ship in the riverbank and avoid an uncontrolled crash into the bridge.
A smartphone video provided to the station shows the Agia Irini bulldozing a mound of mud above the water level, before slowing to a halt just feet before crashing into a riverside pedestrian walkway.
Tugs later got the ship off the bank and refloated, and the vessel anchored downriver at the Mantau Creek anchorage near Paulsboro, N.J.
“Right now we have an inspection and investigations team on board,” said Lt. Roy Cromer, a spokesman for the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay office in Philadelphia. There were no injuries or spills in the incident, and the Coast Guard inspectors were to determine a cause for the accident and certify the ship fit to go back to sea, Cromer said.
Cromer could not say who was handling the ship. The Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware declined comment.
The Liberian-flagged ship is owned by Meadway Shipping and Trading, Athens, Greece. Built by Qingshan Shipyard in Wuhan, China, in 2010, it was enroute from Philadelphia to Tampa, Fla.