U.S. News


A list of major US bridge collapses caused by ships and barges

Among the more notable collapses in the U.S. was that of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge spanning Florida's Tampa Bay.
A car is halted at the edge of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay, Florida.
Posted at 1:21 PM, Mar 26, 2024

A container ship struck a major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, causing it to plunge into the river below. From 1960 to 2015, there were 35 major bridge collapses worldwide due to ship or barge collision, with a total of 342 people killed, according to a 2018 report from the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure. Eighteen of those collapses happened in the United States.

Here's a list of notable disasters involving ships or barges hitting bridges in the U.S.:

Popp's Ferry Bridge

March 20, 2009: A vessel pushing eight barges rammed into the Popp's Ferry Bridge in Biloxi, Mississippi, resulting in a 150-foot section of the bridge collapsing into the bay.

Interstate 40 Bridge: 14 Dead

May 26, 2002: A barge hit the Interstate 40 bridge over the Arkansas River at Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, collapsing a 500-foot section of road and plunging vehicles into the water. Fourteen people died and 11 were injured.

Queen Isabella Causeway: 8 Dead

Sept. 15, 2001: A tugboat and barge struck the Queen Isabella Causeway in Port Isabel, Texas, causing a midsection of the bridge to tumble 80 feet into the bay below. Eight people died after motorists drove into the hole.

Eads Bridge: 50 Injured

April 14, 1998: The Anne Holly tow traveling through the St. Louis Harbor rammed into the center span of the Eads Bridge. Eight barges broke away. Three of them hit a permanently moored gambling vessel below the bridge. Fifty people suffered minor injuries.

Big Bayou Canot: 47 Dead

Sept. 22, 1993: Barges being pushed by a towboat in dense fog hit and displaced the Big Bayou Canot railroad bridge near Mobile, Alabama. Minutes later, an Amtrak train with 220 people aboard reached the displaced bridge and derailed, killing 47 people and injuring 103 people.

Seeber Bridge: 1 Dead

May 28, 1993: The towboat Chris, pushing the empty hopper barge DM3021, hit a support tier of the Judge William Seeber Bridge in New Orleans. Two spans and the two-column bent collapsed onto the barge. Two cars carrying three people fell with the four-lane bridge deck into a canal. One person died and two people were seriously injured.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge: 35 Dead

May 9, 1980: The 609-foot freighter Summit Venture was navigating through the narrow, winding shipping channel of Florida’s Tampa Bay when a sudden, blinding squall knocked out the ship’s radar. The ship sheared off a support of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, dropping a 1,400-foot section of concrete roadway during the morning rush hour. Seven vehicles, including a bus with 26 aboard, fell 150 feet into the water. Thirty-five people died.

Baltimore bridge collapses after ship collision; rescues underway
The collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore

Baltimore bridge collapses after ship collision; rescues underway

Approximately 50 divers from multiple agencies are searching the Patapsco River for survivors of the bridge collapse. At least 6 are unaccounted for.