Entangled dock line blamed for Rhode Island tall ship crash
NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — The owner of a tall ship that crashed into four other boats after a seafood festival is blaming the crash on a dock line that became entangled on its two propellers.
The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry crashed Sunday in Newport Harbor. No one was injured.
On Monday, the 200-foot (61-meter), three-mast ship was still blocking a channel into the Newport Yacht Club, preventing a cruise ship from disembarking passengers. The vessel was moved back to its permanent berth with the help of two tugboats later that afternoon. It is now safely docked in its berth at Fort Adams State Park in Newport.
The ship is operated by Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, a nonprofit that runs educational programs. The group said Monday the engine lost power after its propellers became entangled but did not run aground. The Coast Guard had said shortly after the crash that the ship had grounded.
Jessica Wurzbacher, the group’s executive director, said the ship was leaving its berth at the seafood festival to cross the harbor to its permanent berth at Fort Adams. The propellers then became entangled in one of the ship’s own dock lines off the edge a dock, she said.
The crew dropped two anchors and tied the ship with lines to rope it into place, and while they were doing that it struck four boats, Wurzbacher said.
She said she did not believe the hull was damaged. They were working Monday to untangle the propellers and check them for damage so they can move the ship.
Alex Keller, yacht manager and captain of the 60-foot (18-meter) small yacht Jessica, said his ship was pinned against a dock and “used as a fender” by the tall ship. The smaller vessel was finally freed Monday morning and needs to be checked at a shipyard to see whether there is structural damage, he said.
He 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.
Wurzbacher said it is a 500-ton (454-metric ton) vessel that regularly operates in windy conditions and the captain determined it was safe.
“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 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.