JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The operators of the ship that got stuck under a bridge thought it would fit, that's according to attorney Timothy Conner.
He is representing the United States and Patriot Contract Services, a maritime contractor in charge of the U.S. Navy ship that slammed into the Mathews Bridge.
It isn't the company's first mishap. Action News pulled a report from the Military Sea Lift Command that shows in 2004 a ship that Patriot was operating caught fire, causing heavy damage. Three crew members suffered smoke inhalation. While no one was hurt in Thursday's crash, the damage to the taxpayer-funded bridge is extensive.
Action News asked Conner if Patriot Contract Services is legally in charge of the ship. He replied "Well, we're still sorting through those issues."
Thursday, Action News was told by Jacksonville city councilman Johnny Gaffney that no one was onboard the vessel as it was being towed by tugboats. Friday, we learned that's not accurate. We now know a chief mate, or officer in charge, was on board the vessel vessel, along with several other crew members employed by Patriot.
"He would be in charge of running operations on the ship that need to be run and coordinating with the tugboats and the towing company," said Conner.
That means there was would mean someone on board, in charge, that the ship could have ordered the lowering of the ramp that severed one of the bridge's support beams. Conner said he wants to know if someone was actually supposed to lower the ramp, and, if so, why wasn't it done.