The Willemsbrug, a bridge in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, was painted bright red when it was completed back in 1981. While it helps it stand out against the beautiful northern blue sky, it would also hopefully act as a literal red flag for ships to avoid, too, but a German barge just collided with it.
Shipping traffic on the Nieuwe Maas river has been severely limited by police after a German shipping barge collided with the Willemsbrug (yes, -brug) earlier today. Video of the collision shows the ship’s yellow containers colliding with the lower horizontal support of the bridge, and the local police report six containers were knocked into the water.
(The suffix “-brug” seems to mean “bridge,” and the Willemsbrug is also commonly known as the “Willems bridge,” named for King Willem III of the Netherlands. Therefore, while there are references in English reports referring to the span as the “Willemsbrug bridge,” this is probably like saying the “Willem’s bridge bridge.”)
The collision occurred on the river between the Willemsbrug and the Erasmus bridge. The area is located just in-river from Rotterdam port, claimed to be Europe’s biggest port, disrupting operations to the east. The port’s western seaside operations were not affected. The ship involved was the German freighter Rhenus Duisburg, according to data collected by FleetMon.com.
While traffic over the bridge was almost immediately suspended following the incident, the bridge does not seem to be severely damaged. The barge remained under the bridge throughout the day as recovery operations for the six fumbled shipping containers were rushed, likely to try to get them up before sunset and to get the port’s eastern operations back in full swing.
Rijinmond reports nobody was injured in the collision, and that some pieces were left hanging down from the Willems. It also reports the shipping containers were supposedly empty, and that at least three had been fully recovered from the water.
The charter company for the barge reportedly commented that it was waiting for a full meeting with the ship’s skipper before proceeding with an announcement. Whatever they’re going to talk about, it’s very clear that the barge was overloaded, and likely one stack too high for any bridge on the river to its destination.
I bet if commercial shipping crews are anything like American teenagers, it’s probably pretty embarrassing to crash your boat into the giant red bridge next to the busiest port in Europe, in front of all your friends. That’s probably punishment enough for whoever they do end up blaming.