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Accident Report Detail

Allision of the Liberian Freighter Bright Field with the Poydras Street Wharf, Riverwalk Marketplace and New Orleans Hilton Hotel

Executive Summary

​Shortly after 1400 on December 14, 1996, the fully loaded Liberian bulk carrier Bright Field temporarily lost propulsion power as the vessel was navigating outbound in the Lower Mississippi River at New Orleans, Louisiana. The vessel struck a wharf adjacent to a populated commercial area that included a shopping mall, a condominium parking garage, and a hotel. No fatalities resulted from the accident, and no one aboard the Bright Field was injured; however, 4 serious injuries and 58 minor injuries were sustained during evacuations of shore facilities, a gaming vessel, and an excursion vessel located near the impact area. Total property damages to the Bright Field and to shoreside facilities were estimated at about $20 million.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of Clearsky Shipping Company to adequately manage and oversee the maintenance of the engineering plant aboard the Bright Field, with the result that the vessel temporarily lost power while navigating a highrisk area of the Mississippi River.

Contributing to the amount of property damage and the number and types of injuries sustained during the accident was the failure of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans, and International RiverCenter to adequately assess, manage, or mitigate the risks associated with locating unprotected commercial enterprises in areas vulnerable to vessel strikes.

Accident Location: New Orleans , LA    
Accident Date: 12/14/1996
Accident ID: DCA97MM014

Date Adopted: 1/13/1998
NTSB Number: MAR-98-01
NTIS Number: PB98-916401