Second wake damages pier
At 12:54 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18, the wake from the outbound tanker Atlas Explorer rolled along the concrete bulkhead and lifted the two sections of the pier remaining closest to the shore off their pilings.
Wreckage from the pier slanted into the water following the washout; another part of the pier railings floated about 100 yards away.
"People who saw it coming said the wake just swept along the bulkhead, bounced off and hit the pier," said police officer Jeff Chain, who investigated the incident.
Chain said nobody was hurt by water that washed over the bulkhead. Because damage in the original incident made the pier inaccessible, nobody was on it when the wake from the Atlas Explorer hit it on Tuesday.
"Some of (the people on the shore) saw it coming and fled," he said. "Some got in their cars and fled."
High tide was predicted to be at 3:10 p.m. on Tuesday. The tide was forecast to be 1.28 feet high.
City officials, including City Manager Michael Kovacs, Police Chief Sam Russell and Interim Public Works Director Douglas Box inspected the damage from the bulkhead. A swash of water 50 yards across and inches deep showed where the ship's wake had surged over the top of the bulkhead.
The city is still negotiating with insurers to try to get the pier rebuilt after the innermost sections of decking were taken off on Wednesday, Jan. 16, by the outbound tanker SKS Tiete. It's not clear yet what kind of complica- tions Tuesday's accident will add to those negotiations.
The Atlas Explorer is 810 feet long and draws 48 feet of draft. It weighs in at 107,181 deadweight tons, according to shipping information on the World Wide Web.
High tides and coastal flooding were held to be partly to blame for the initial damage to the pier in January, according to a U.S. Coast Guard report. The Coast Guard issued no citations in that incident.
Last month, City Engineer Jim Urban told the city council that the only bid for repairing the initial damage to the pier was $76,000. Urban said he considered that bid too high, and recommended seeking other bids; the council agreed.
One thing Urban said engineers were considering was sinking additional pilings alongside the original pilings and binding the pairs together for added strength.
The council suggested raising the repaired section of the pier somewhat higher to make it more resistant to wakes, but Urban said the Americans with Disabilities Act limits the angle at which public ramps can be built. Raising the pier would probably exceed that angle, he said.