Würzburg: goods ship blocked Main for two days

On Friday afternoon (December 23, 2022) a cargo ship had an accident on the Main and turned aside. First rescue attempts failed and the river was closed to shipping.

But now the effort was successful.

Update from December 25th, 2022, 9 p.m.: 100 meter long ship towed free – driving error should be the cause

The ship was towed free on Sunday (December 25, 2022). A new attempt was successful, said a spokesman for the city of Würzburg. Among other things, the matter was approached with several and stronger boats. In addition, more space has been created for maneuvering.

The ship, which is more than 100 meters long, should now drive to a pier under its own power and then be examined in detail for damage. The old Main Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists has now been released again.

The city spokesman said the rising water levels would have raised the ship. On the one hand, this could have made the towing attempt easier, but at the same time the cargo ship touched the restaurant ship “Mainkuh” lying next to it, which is now also to be examined for damage. The “Mainkuh” was then moved to create more space for the manoeuvre.

According to initial findings, the cause of the incident at the Würzburg lock was probably a driving error by the 35-year-old skipper, the police said. The ship, which according to the city of Würzburg loaded around 2,700 tons of asphalt granulate, was then driven sideways and was unable to manoeuvre. The investigation is ongoing.

Update from December 24th, 2022, 1.35 p.m .: The city of Würzburg gives an update on the accident on the Main

After the accident of a loaded cargo ship in Würzburg, not only shipping on the Main came to a standstill. As the city of Würzburg announced on Saturday, there are also barriers in the bank area for safety reasons. The ship was therefore secured in the position parallel to the Löwenbrücke. “The use of such safety technology under enormous loads requires protection areas that must be kept free,” says the city.

Around the “Mainkuh” restaurant, which remains closed, the fire brigade and THW have erected site fences. A section of the promenade and cycle path at Willy-Brandt-Kai is not available. “On the other hand, there are no restrictions on car traffic or the parking area,” the city said.

How does it go from here? The situation was discussed with the responsible average commissioner during the night. Another towing attempt with several ships is currently being prepared. According to the city, this should happen during the Christmas holidays. “At this point in time, there should be another short-term closure of the Old Main Bridge – also for safety reasons,” explains the city.

According to a statement from the city of Würzburg, Mayor Martin Heilig and Mayor Judith Jörg visited the site on Friday evening. They therefore thanked the around 150 emergency services from the professional fire brigade, volunteer fire brigade, police, THW, DLRG, rescue and medical service and the water and shipping authority for the “pre-Christmas and unusual use”.

First report from December 24th, 2022, 8.45 a.m.: Cargo ship to accident on Main disabled

According to the police, the goods motor ship, which was loaded with asphalt granulate, drove down the Main at around 4 p.m. Shortly after the Ludwigsbrücke, there was a “near collision” with an oncoming motorized goods vessel. According to previous investigations, the cargo ship then ran across the direction of flow shortly before a lock due to another driving error by the 35-year-old skipper.

There it rammed the foredeck of the lock’s separating dam, wedged itself and threatened to collide with the floating facility, the “Mainkuh” restaurant. People who were in the restaurant at that time were then evacuated by the police. The old Main Bridge was also briefly closed to pedestrians.

According to the Bureau, several attempts to “tow the container ship free” with a tug boat were unsuccessful. “The ship was then secured with technical equipment by the fire brigade and the THW and must remain in this position until further notice,” reports the police.

Water police are investigating those who caused the accident (35).

Shipping will therefore remain blocked until the damaged ship is freed. The Waterways and Shipping Authority is now advising the owner of the ship on how to proceed. The water protection police in Würzburg took over the investigation of the 35-year-old who caused the accident.

No people were injured as a result of the accident. Further investigations would have to clarify whether property damage had occurred, the Bureau explains. Around 150 emergency services from the police, fire brigade, THW, rescue service, medical service, DLRG and waterways and shipping office were deployed in the operation, which lasted into the night.