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Video: Giant Bulker Hits Bridge Near Buenos Aires

Bulker hits bridge
Courtesy Zarate Transit

Published Jan 29, 2024 2:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

A large bulker has struck a support pillar for a key road bridge connecting Buenos Aires with Argentina's northern Entre Rios province, shutting down the Parana River waterway.  

AIS data provided by Pole Star suggests that En May allided with the southwestern pylon (on the Zarate side of the river) at about 2100 hours on Sunday night. She was making about 10 knots as she lined up to pass under the bridge. 

Chart courtesy Pole Star (Note: AIS position does not represent position of the bow)

Bystander videos show that the bulker suffered extensive damage on the port side, with a gaping hole extending above and below the waterline on the port bow. 

The bridge pylons are protected by defensive buttresses on the upstream side. En May approached from the downstream side, where the bridge has no defenses. 

The cause of the allision is still under investigation, but local maritime media outlet Paraguay Fluvial has reported it as a rudder failure. The ship is said to be stable and flooding is limited to a single hold forward. 

Maritime traffic through the waterway has been shut down for safety. Vehicles are still allowed to pass over the bridge deck, but traffic is restricted for trucks over 50 tonnes in total weight. The speed over the bridge has been limited to about 40 miles per hour. 

As of Monday afternoon, En May still held position next to the bridge pylons, according to AIS. 

En May is an 85,000 dwt bulker built in 2017 and operated by Foremost, a shipping company in New York. In a statement, the firm said early local reports of a rudder failure were inaccurate. 

“We are working with the local authorities around the clock to remove the vessel as safely as possible after it allided with a pillar while under the control of two local pilots," a Foremost spokesperson said. "Thankfully, no one was injured and there was no pollution.”