Dropped objects don’t come much bigger than the Jefferson Avenue Bridge over the Rouge River about 10 kilometres southwest of Detroit, Michigan. It is not especially unusual for ships to hit bridges but fairly rare for bridges to hit ships,only fairly rare because it has happened before under similar circumstances – an impaired bridge operator.
About 0212 on May 12, 2013, the bulk carrier Herbert C. Jackson was en route to deliver a load of taconite pellets, a type of iron ore, to the Severstal ore processing terminal in Dearborn, Michigan. As the vessel approached the Jefferson Avenue Bridge, the master slowed and sounded one long and one short blast of the ship’s whistle to notify the bridge tender of the approach and request a bridge opening. While waiting, the master brought the vessel to a near-complete stop. About 0205, the master saw the bridge begin to open, and when the drawbridge was fully open and green lights were visible on each bridge section, he increased speed.