Navy ship departure postponed

Departure of Navy ship that damaged Mathews Bridge postponed due to weather


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The departure of the Navy ship that struck the Mathews Bridge late September has been postponed according to a Navy spokesperson.

The USNS Martin's expected move had been cancelled Monday, due to high wind conditions. Military Sealift Command is currently planning for Martin to sail Tuesday, depending on the weather.

USNS 1ST LT Harry L. Martin (T-AK 3015) was slated to depart the North Florida Shipyard the morning of Nov. 4, returning to the ship's usual layberth at Blount Island Command.

Another surge sealift ship, USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat (T-AK 3016), was scheduled to leave the Tuesday, also returning to Blount Island Command.

While under tow in the St. Johns River Sept. 26., Martin's port-side stern ramp buttress made contact with the Mathews Bridge. The contact caused structural damage to the bridge and damage to Martin's stern ramp buttress, for which repairs are anticipated to occur at Blount Island Command. River and bridge traffic stopped during the incident, but no injuries were reported. The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating the incident.

Both Martin and Wheat will depart the North Florida Shipyard under their own propulsion, each with a crew of approximately 20 mariners per Coast Guard regulations. Military Sealift Command, in cooperation with the Coast Guard and local authorities, has taken extra precautions to ensure a safe, successful transit, including an extra pilot and escort tugs.

Martin is a 754-foot dry cargo ship maintained by MSC as a surge sealift vessel for point-to-point transport of outsized military cargo, including vehicles, when called upon. The ship is usually layberthed in reduced operating status at Blount Island Command, with minimal crew aboard to maintain the ship's critical systems.

MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.