Cargo ship goes haywire in South Carolina — doubles its speed as busy bridge is forced to shut down

A 1,000-foot cargo ship in Charleston County, South Carolina went haywire yesterday, losing control of its speed. And as the ship headed towards the busy eight-lane Ravenel Bridge, officials acted quickly to shut it down.

The ship's pilot had set the MSC Michigan's engine speed to "dead slow ahead" as it traveled down the Cooper River, according to ABCNews4, but as it approached the bridge it lost propulsion. The ship then sped up and got stuck "going between 14 to 17 knots, approximately 16 to 20 m.p.h." — or twice as fast as what was considered safe.

After a container ship struck a Baltimore bridge in March, causing it to collapse and killing six people, officials didn't take any chances, closing down all traffic on the Ravenel Bridge, including vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, until the ship passed.

From ABCNews4:

The ship's pilot requested assistance from nearby tugs, but they were unable to make it to the ship due to the increased speed. After determining that dropping anchors would not be effective, the pilot, master, and crew decided to continue to navigate through the harbor and alert authorities of the situation, according to Charleston Pilots.

And from HuffPost:

Police officers gave rides to people who were walking or biking across the span to get them to safety quickly, Charleston Police Chief Chito Walker said. The bridge was empty within minutes.

"The communication was pristine in this situation from top to bottom," Walker said.

The ship's crew regained control after leaving the bridge and was able to stop and anchor about 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the coast, Preston said.

Fortunately, it all ended well, thanks to an organized, team effort. Here's a montage of various video clips of the incident: