By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (CBS) — Transportation officials in New Hampshire and Maine believe the Memorial Bridge is structurally sound but divers will head back into the water on Tuesday to make sure there are no major problems.

A tanker hit the bridge early Friday morning.

The bridge opened just over six months ago.

“The previous Memorial Bridge had never been struck other than once in its entire history,” said Bill Boynton, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. “So it’s frustrating because the bridge was just opened last August.”

The tanker, called the Seapride, eventually moved on to Portland but the crew has been interviewed. The U.S. Coast Guard will not say what crew members have said about what may have led to the accident.

A panel on the bridge was dislodged and ended up at the bottom of the Piscataqua River. Another panel will have to be removed to be repaired. They each weigh about 10,000 pounds.

The panel that ended up in the water was lifted to shore by a crane on Saturday.

“It’s basically a shock absorber,” said Boynton. “It’s really to protect the pier which supports the structure of the bridge.”

The bridge connects Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine.

Both states are filing legal action to ensure the ship’s owners pay for the damage which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars according to Boynton.

The ship sails under a Malta flag.

The bridge has remained open to all traffic.

The tanker was carrying diesel fuel but nothing spilled.

Boynton says the channel is fairly wide and authorities are baffled by what went wrong.



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