Tanker hits Ambrose Light tower

(NEW YORK, NY — November 9, 2007) The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting an investigation to determine how a 799-foot tanker ship struck the Ambrose Light navigation aid at 2 a.m.on Nov. 3.
Ambrose Light is a 76-foot structure that sits about 12 miles southeast of Staten Island, N.Y., and watches over the main shipping lanes to New York Harbor.  It is located about four and one-half miles outside the shipping channel.  The structure reportedly suffered substantial damage to its legs, stanchion and the revolving light is bent and no longer rotating.  Coast Guard Sector New York issued a Safety Marine Information Broadcast (SMIB) at 1:45 p.m. alerting mariners in the area of the damaged structure and damaged navigation light.

The Axel Spirit, operated by the Teekay Shipping Company and flagged in Nassau, Bahamas, was enroute to the Chevron facility in Perth Amboy, N.J., when it struck Ambrose Light.

The Axel Spirit’s shipping agent reported the incident to Coast Guard Sector New York at 8:50 a.m. today. The Coast Guard does not yet know the extent of damage to the Axel Spirit.  There have been no reported injuries or pollution.

A commercial vessel pilot provided an initial damage report on Ambrose Light to the Coast Guard at 3:15 a.m.  Coast Guard Sector New York Aids to Navigation Team and Vessel Traffic Service personnel aboard an Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flew around Ambrose Light and confirmed that the structure suffered damage.  An exact damage assessment will not be known until officials can thoroughly inspect the structure.

“Once the severe weather caused by Tropical Storm Noel has subsided, the Coast Guard will completely assess the damage and make repairs to the light,” said Lt. Erica Mack, Coast Guard Sector New York command duty watch officer. “Until then, we ask that mariners please stay clear of that area, if possible, for their own safety and the safety of others on the water.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Willow, a 225-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Newport, R.I., has been directed to affix a temporary aids to navigation until permanent repairs can be made to the Ambrose Light.

The weather at the time of the incident was reported at 20-25 knot winds and four-foot to five-foot seas.

By Professional Mariner Staff