Rhode Island's tall ship loses power, hits four boats

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(NEWPORT, R.I.) — The owner of the tall ship Oliver Hazard Perry, which crashed into four other boats Sunday in Newport after a seafood festival, is blaming the incident on a dock line that became entangled in the ship's two propellers, The Day reported.

The 200-foot, three-mast ship is operated by the nonprofit group Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, which runs educational programs. Jessica Wurzbacher, the group's executive director, said the ship lost power as it was leaving its berth at the festival to cross the harbor to its permanent berth at Fort Adams State Park. The propellers became entangled in one the ship's own dock lines, she said. No one was injured.

Wurzbacher said she did not believe the hull was damaged. The group was working Monday to untangle the propellers and check them for damage. The ship was still blocking a channel Monday into the Newport Yacht Club, preventing a cruise ship from disembarking passengers. It was not immediately determined when the ship will be moved.

Alex Keller, manager and captain of the 60-foot yacht Jessica, said his boat was pinned against a dock and "used as a fender" by the tall ship. The smaller vessel was freed Monday morning and needs to be checked at a shipyard to see whether there is structural damage, he said.

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The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(BOSTON) — Coast Guard Station Castle Hill was providing a safety zone in Newport Harbor, R.I., on Sunday night after a tall ship lost power and hit multiple other boats before grounding near Perrotti Park.

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, an educational tall ship home-ported in Newport, was leaving Bowen's Wharf Seafood Festival with 12 crewmembers aboard when it lost power and began to drift.

A 911 dispatcher alerted Coast Guard watch standers to the incident at about 6:15 p.m.

Two response boat crews from Station Castle Hill immediately deployed to the scene, where personnel from the Narragansett Bay Task Force are also helping with the response. 

There are no reported injuries or pollution. The incident is under investigation.

By Professional Mariner Staff