Bulk Carrier Takes Out Railroad Bridge in Panama Canal

Mike Schuler
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June 24, 2020

A bulk carrier transiting the Panama Canal took out the railroad bridge in Gamboa on Tuesday, causing major damage.

The Panama Canal Authority said it is investigating the accident and that ship transits are not impacted by the incident.

The railway bridge crosses the Chagres River in Gamboa, Panama. It is part of the Panama Canal Railway which parallels the Panama Canal providing freight and passenger service linking the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean.

Video showing the aftermath of the incident shows a portion of the bridge collapsed into the water.

The ship involved is the Cyprus-flagged MV Bluebill, a 37,000 dwt bulk carrier built in 2004. AIS data shows the ship was transiting the Canal in a northbound direction, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, after sailing from Korea.

The AIS track below shows the track of the Bluebill as it struck the bridge. A source tells gCaptain that the Bluebill’s rudder had become stuck to starboard and the vessel was making over 7 knots while loaded with steel products. “There was little that could be done,” we are told.

The incident is under investigation.

Courtesy MarineTraffic.com

In 2012, a video was posted online showing a bulk carrier nearly hitting the Gamboa bridge, coming to a stop just meters away.

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