Making a splash: NOAA’s tipsy ship launch sprays shards of wood (VIDEO)

Via NOAA: "NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker will assess fish stocks and study other marine life, including marine mammals and sea turtles, on the U.S. West Coast. (Val Ihde, Marinette Marine Corp.)

Via NOAA: “NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker will assess fish stocks and study other marine life, including marine mammals and sea turtles, on the U.S. West Coast. (Val Ihde, Marinette Marine Corp.)

About a year ago, NOAA held a festive launch ceremony for its state-of-the-art fisheries  vessel the Reuben Lasker.  But viral video, which just surfaced in the past two days, shows how it was less than smooth and nearly disastrous.

The view of the launch from the Marinette, Wis. dock, included in NOAA’s related press materials, makes it appear a bit turbulent, but innocuous:

Here’s a view from the opposite vantage point.

But, see this video (hat tip: Jalopnik): a blast of wooden plank debris is unleashed as the boat is unhinged:

WPTV.com writes: The photographers suffered bumps and bruises and another person suffered a broken leg, the Today Show reported.

Here’s an account and explanation from poster djt832 on Reddit who claims to have been on the scene:

The boats normally have steel rails welded to their hulls that ride along the metal bleacher looking things when the boat is set free. After the launch these are obviously removed. However …. with this boat design, they were unable to attach these steel rails and had to use wooden ones instead. I have a friend that works for the shipyard and basically someone made a huge misjudgement and the wood split and flew everywhere, as you can obviously see from the video. After this incident viewers were no longer allowed to be so close to the launches.

NOAA says the ship, the 5th of its kind built for the agency, will “support fish, marine mammals and turtle surveys off the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.”

(Thanks to reader Keith Wojciech for pointing out this story)

Clarification: A previous version of this blog post stated the ship nearly capsized. A reader (Jeffrey Levy) pointed out the rocky motion of the ship during launch is not out of the ordinary and that the ship was not actually in danger of flipping over. The text was, thus, amended.

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