The U.S. Coast Guard will investigate why a tanker ship drifted into the Sarah Long Bridge between New Hampshire and Maine Monday afternoon.
As of Monday evening, the bridge remained closed to vehicle traffic.
The vessel, loaded with tallow, an export from the Port of New Hampshire, broke free from its mooring at the New Hampshire State Pier. Ports and Harbors Director Geno Marconi says that The Harbour Feature, a tanker, was secured at the pier, and had just undergone a refueling.
"Something occurred aboard the vessel that caused it to drift away from the pier. At that point in time, the tide, the current started to run pretty hard and caused the lines to start to snap. And she came to rest against the bridge."
Department of Transportation crews closed off the bridge to vehicle traffic, and the ship blocked all river traffic. Marconi says that at the next high tide, the vessel will be brought back to the state pier to allow the Coast Guard to inspect the vessel for damage and question the captain.
"There appears to be some damage to the railings and it looks like the davits that the lifeboat sits on are twisted out of shape."
DOT inspectors were checking Monday for damage to the bridge itself, which has already been red-listed as a span in need of replacement because of deterioration.
DOT spokesman Bill Boynton says a bridge inspection team would be back at the scene on Tuesday morning to check for any damage and won't reopen the bridge until it's inspected.