SS Marine Floridian

SS Marine Floridian

SS Marine Floridian

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S.S. Marine Floridian was an 5,700 ton, ocean-going tanker ship.

Early career

The ship was built as the Type T2 tanker SS Paoli at Sun Shipbuilding in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1944. After service for the War Shipping Administration during World War II, she was acquired by the United States Navy as in 1956 and remained in naval service until she was sold in 1966.

Collision with bridge

On 24 February 1977, in early daylight hours, the ship collided with a drawbridge in Virginia in a spectacular and costly accident.

The Marine Floridian was eastbound, heading downriver from Richmond, under the direction of a James River pilot. As the ship rounded a bend in the channel of the James River at the confluence of the Appomattox River near City Point and began the approach to the Benjamin Harrison Bridge, the steering gear malfunctioned, and with the rudder locked in a turn, the pilot lost control of the ship.

The bridge tender had placed the lift span in the "raised" position in anticipation of the ship's passage, and motorists were sitting in their vehicles behind the warning gates waiting. As the large ship veered off course to the north, the occupants of southbound vehicles waiting on the bridge saw the ship coming directly toward them, and managed to get out of their cars and run to safety before the ship rammed the bridge.

The ship missed the open portion and struck part of the fixed span. Four unoccupied vehicles tumbled into the river, and part of the bridge...
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