Just how big is that cargo ship that hit the bridge in Baltimore, Maryland? Kirk Rider is a Montana native and an expert in the maritime industry. He gave us a Montana analogy to help paint the picture.

Kirk Rider: "I did some measurements last night on a tool I have, and this vessel is 984 feet- it's not by any means a considerable length. I mean, the the Titanic was 800 and something feet, but these vessels are are basically large bathtubs that they put all these containers in, so they're massive in nature with their beam and their length. But when I placed the measurements on, you know Billings, Montana for reference, if you were to put this ship on 27th Street facing towards the airport and have the stern at Montana Avenue basically docked right outside the Doubletree the bow would go all the way up to the Yellowstone County Courthouse. And if this ship were like to take off and kind of go down the road there, as they pass by the courthouse, the captain and the pilot would be able to go out on the bridge wing and hand off a jar of Grey Poupon to people standing on the roof of the courthouse. So that's kind of the scale of what we're dealing with here. And, like I said, there's vessels that are twice the size of this that would dwarf any of the buildings even the First Interstate Tower there in Billings."

Who is Kirk Rider?

Kirk Rider is a Billings, Montana native who received an appointment to the US Merchant Marine Academy in the 80s. He's got experience in the maritime industry both through the military and the private sector. In the early 90s he became a 'for hire' claims investigator, known in the industry as a 'Marine Surveyor' working throughout the Far East based out of Hong Kong.  During this time he was hired to investigate and report to various interested parties regarding ship collisions, fires, and other ocean going ship catastrophes. He returned to the maritime industry in the late 90s and has been working as a Marine Technical Director for several large US marine insurers.

What does he think caused the crash? 

First, Kirk tells us that "it's a very remote possibility that this could be a terrorist act."

Kirk Rider: "If you imagine maybe like a single person kayak that you'll sit on top of- a fishing kayak that you use- and you take that rudder off that's about the size of your hand extended, and replace it with a playing card- that's about the size and kind of ratio of the rudder that's on the ship. So it's not very capable at low speeds. And especially, based on the reports that I've read, the power actually went off well before they came close to the bridge. So they'd actually lost steerage much before the video shows, and once that propeller stops moving, there's really- the rudder no matter how big it is is completely ineffective at those low speeds.

One other big thing that stood out to me from what Kirk said:

The bridge in Baltimore apparently did not have the fenders on it that other bridges in major ports would typically have.

Listen to our full conversation with Kirk Rider in the below podcast (and thanks to Greg Franks for linking us up with Kirk!):

LOOK: 20 photos of shipwrecks from WWI and WWII

Stacker compiled research from news sites, wreckage databases, and local diving centers to provide context for a series of striking images of WWI and WWII shipwrecks.

Gallery Credit: Elias Sorich


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