2017 Oct 27

I've got that sinking feeling... First ocean-going tall ship to be built in 100 years crashes into four boats after it becomes entangled in a rope

The owner of an iconic tall ship that crashed into four other boats at a festival in Rhode Island has said the incident was the result of a dock line that became entangled in its two propellers.

The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, the first ocean-going, full-rigged ship to be built in the U.S. in more than a century, crashed in Newport Harbor during a seafood festival. No one was injured.

A video has emerged capturing the moment. 

It shows the 200 foot (61 metre), three-mast ship clipping a much smaller sailboat before backing into a moored boat.

It then moves forward to hit a third stationary boat with its owner on board, as well as a fourth boat.

The crew are seen dropping anchors to steady the boat. 

The ship's operators Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, a nonprofit that runs educational programmes, said the ship had run off course when its propellers became entangled in one of its own dock lines.

The group said the ship did not run aground - hit the seabed - but the Coast Guard said shortly after the crash that the ship had grounded.

The ship was leaving its berth at the seafood festival to cross the harbor to its permanent berth at Fort Adams when the incident happened. 

Alex Keller, yacht manager and captain of 60 foot (18 metre) boat Jessica, one of those hit, said his ship was pinned against a dock and 'used as a fender' by the tall ship.

The smaller vessel was eventually freed but needs to be checked for structural damage.

Mr Keller said that he was surprised the captain of the tall ship was trying to operate it in winds that were blowing at 25 knots and that he would not have done it himself unless it was an emergency.

Jessica Wurzbacher, group executive director of Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, said the ship is a 500-ton (454-metric ton) vessel that regularly operates in windy conditions. She added that the captain determined it was safe at the time.

'I don't think the weather affected the incident,' she said.

The captain of the Trade Wind, Darius Dupey, was on the small wooden yacht when it was struck by the Oliver Hazard Perry.

In cellphone video of the accident, Dupey tells the Oliver Hazard Perry crew to go forward, then yells 'Oh, my God!' and 'Whoa' as the tall ship gets closer and wood crunches on impact.

He said they won't know the full extent of the damage until the yacht is hauled out of the water and inspected.

The tall ship is named for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, a hero in the War of 1812, who's remembered for his command: 'Don't give up the ship.'

It was built of steel at a cost of $16 million (£13.6 million) and in 2016 became the first ocean-going, full-rigged ship to be built in the U.S. in more than 100 years.

Its main mast is 13 1/2 stories high. It is the largest civilian sail training vessel, accommodating 49 people overnight, and serves as Rhode Island's official sailing education vessel.

Source:; Karen Gilchrist

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