New York’s Ambrose tower hit by ship – again

A bulk carrier in ballast preparing to pick up a pilot off New York harbor slammed into the Ambrose light tower, causing serious damage to the tower and inflicting a series of tears in its hull.

The bridge wing of Kouros V was crumpled during a collision with New York’s Ambrose light tower, which marks the pilot station eight miles east of the port of New York/New Jersey.

The 492-foot Greek-registered vessel Kouros V was approaching the pilotage area from the northeast shortly after midnight on Jan. 22 when it collided with the stationary tower, which stands more than 130 feet above the surface of the sea.

Ambrose Light, which marks the area of the pilot station eight miles east of Sandy Hook, N.J., was destroyed by a ship in October 1996 and was reconstructed only 17 months ago. The tower was rebuilt more than 1.5 miles to seaward of the previous location to allow inbound and outbound traffic more room to maneuver in the vicinity of the pilot station.

The master of Kouros V initially reported to the Coast Guard that high winds had forced his vessel into the tower after he had reduced speed to board a pilot, but the Coast Guard had not completed its investigation at press time. The vessel was reportedly operating at 2 knots prior to the incident. A pilot had boarded a launch in preparation for the inbound transit – the vessel was bound for Albany to load corn – but had not reached the vessel and did not witness the collision, according to Robert Deane, president of the New Jersey association of the Sandy Hook Pilots.

A 20-foot tear down the port side of the bulk carrier was an expensive result of the collision, but the vessel did not flood or list since ballast tanks inboard of the gash were flooded at the time.

Kouros V suffered two horizontal slashes in the hull – one above the waterline approximately 20 feet in length and one near the turn of the bilge – which will cost an estimated $600,000 to repair, according to the Coast Guard. The vessel did not develop a list since the tear below the waterline was in way of ballast tanks, which were already flooded with water, near the Nos. 2 and 3 cargo holds on the port side. The vessel’s port bridge wing was also crumpled in the collision. Twisted and torn steel was all that remained of the bridge wing’s bulwarks after the vessel scraped past the tower. The vessel also suffered damage to the hull plating at the embarkation deck where the lifeboats are stored, according to Coast Guard reports.

The tower, which has a total value of $4.9 million, suffered significant damage that had not been estimated by the Coast Guard at press time. The Department of Justice, on behalf of the Coast Guard, which maintains Ambrose Light, will attempt to recoup costs, according to Lt. Kelly Post, investigations officer for Coast Guard Activities New York in Staten Island.

By Professional Mariner Staff