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Ship Cargo Hits Cherokee in Cape Fear River

The dredge Cherokee is dwarfed by the huge vessel as the four booms projecting from the port side of the ship strike the spud frames. Photo courtesy Wilmington District, COE.

The dredge Cherokee is dwarfed by the huge vessel as the four booms projecting from the port side of the ship strike the spud frames. Photo courtesy Wilmington District, COE.

Booms of container cranes loaded on the Chinese ship Zhen Hua 16 struck Southern Dredging Company’s cutterhead dredge Cherokee in the Cape Fear River, North Carolina on Saturday, February 3.

All traffic had been removed from the river to make way for the Zhen Hua 16, which had transported four cranes, built by Zhenhua Port Machinery Company, around Cape Horn and across the Atlantic, bound for the Port of Wilmington.

The Cherokee, which was on the final two weeks of a maintenance dredging project in the river, had been pulled as far out of the channel as possible. The crew was able to see that the booms were going to hit the dredge as the slow-moving ship approached.

The booms hit and damaged the spud frames on the spud barge and the dredge.

The cranes sustained damage to metal parts, including catwalks, railings and access platforms, as well as to conduits, lighting and electrical systems. One crane sustained more serious damage, to a festoon cable, which is part of the crane’s main operational system, according to a North Carolina Ports news release. The incident will not delay the startup of the cranes, scheduled for April 1.

After the accident, the Cherokee crew spent four days removing the spud frame from the dredge and repairing the frame on the barge sufficiently to continue working the remaining two weeks of the project.

They had been working on the project, Maintenance Dredging, Wilmington Harbor Anchorage Basin and 42-foot Project (W912HN-06-C-0054) since mid-October, 2006. The contract involves removing 1.5 million cubic yards of shoal material.

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