Photo of Island Lookout, pushing a barge similar to the BH 2903, under way before the accident.

​Island Lookout, pushing a barge similar to the BH 2903, under way before the accident. ​Source: William L. Baxter

Contact of Island Lookout Tow with Centerville Turnpike Bridge

Investigation Details

What Happened

​​​On November 14, 2020, about 0435 local time, the towing vessel Island Lookout was transiting eastbound with a crew of four on the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal near Chesapeake, Virginia, pushing ahead barge BH 2903, which was loaded with scrap steel. As the tow was attempting to pass through the Centerville Turnpike Bridge, the barge struck the swing span of the bridge while it was opening. No pollution or injuries were reported. Estimated damages amounted to $2.86 million for the bridge and $34,000 for the barge.

What We Found

The probable cause of the contact of the Island Lookout tow with the Centerville Turnpike Bridge was the mate’s misjudgment of the tow’s speed of approach relative to the status of the swing bridge opening, which resulted in insufficient time to slow the tow and avoid striking the bridge before it was fully open and safe to navigate.​