Entangled dock line blamed for tall ship crash

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — The owner of a tall ship that crashed into four other boats after a seafood festival is blaming the crash on a dock line that became entangled on its two propellers.

The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry crashed Sunday in Newport Harbor. No one was injured.

On Monday, the 200-foot (61-meter), three-mast ship was still blocking a channel into the Newport Yacht Club, preventing a cruise ship from disembarking passengers. The vessel was moved back to its permanent berth with the help of two tugboats later that afternoon. It is now safely docked in its berth at Fort Adams State Park in Newport.

The ship is operated by Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, a nonprofit that runs educational programs. The group said Monday the engine lost power after its propellers became entangled but did not run aground. The Coast Guard had said shortly after the crash that the ship had grounded.

Jessica Wurzbacher, the group’s executive director, said the ship was leaving its berth at the seafood festival to cross the harbor to its permanent berth at Fort Adams. The propellers then became entangled in one of the ship’s own dock lines off the edge a dock, she said.

The crew dropped two anchors and tied the ship with lines to rope it into place, and while they were doing that it struck four boats, Wurzbacher said.

She said she did not believe the hull was damaged. They were working Monday to untangle the propellers and check them for damage so they can move the ship.

Alex Keller, yacht manager and captain of the 60-foot (18-meter) small yacht Jessica, said his ship was pinned against a dock and “used as a fender” by the tall ship. The smaller vessel was finally freed Monday morning and needs to be checked at a shipyard to see whether there is structural damage, he said.

He said that he was surprised the captain of the tall ship was trying to operate it in winds that were blowing at 25 knots and that he would not have done it himself unless it was an emergency.

Wurzbacher said it is a 500-ton (454-metric ton) vessel that regularly operates in windy conditions and the captain determined it was safe.