Mystery Ship Launch FAIL – Solved!

Watch out
Watch out

Over the weekend we posted a somewhat scary video of a cameraman getting a face full of wood at a unidentified ship launch. The video quickly went viral, but details of where and when this happened remained a mystery.

Thanks in part to our commentors, it was not long before the ship and yard were identified. Now Jalopnik, a site typically reserved for automobile news, has some details of what really happened. Here’s the original video:

The ship in the video has been identified as the Reuben Lasker, a research ship built for NOAA fisheries, during her launching on June 16, 2012 at Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Now here it is again from a few different angles:

That was Pamela Lasker christening the ship, the daughter of the fisheries scientist for whom the ship was named. Here’s another look in a video shot from the rear:

By most accounts a successful launch, but if you look closely:

Click to animate
Click to animate

And now for the answer to the question that you’ve all been asking: Yes, the cameraman (and the rest of the spectators) survived.

So what happened? Reddit user Djt832 tries to explain:

I may have been at this ship launch. If it is the same one, the person did not die, but was knocked unconscious.

The boats normally have steel rails welded to their hulls that ride along the metal bleacher looking things when the boat is set free. After the launch these are obviously removed. However (Still assuming this is the same boat, 90% sure) with this boat design, they were unable to attach these steel rails and had to use wooden ones instead. I have a friend that works for the shipyard and basically someone made a huge misjudgement and the wood split and flew everywhere, as you can obviously see from the video. After this incident viewers were no longer allowed to be so close to the launches.