Video: US warship collides with tugboat during launch


Footage captured during the launch of a US warship using the ‘side launch’ method shows the vessel colliding with a tugboat moments after hitting the water.

“During the launch of the future USS Cleveland (LCS 31) unintentional contact occurred between the ship and a supporting tug,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Jamie Koehler told Navy Times after the incident.

The US Navy announced on Friday (14 April) its plans to launch and christen the USS Cleveland, a Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship, in Marinette, Wisconsin, using the old method known as a side launch.

Side launches are generally chosen when there is not enough water to otherwise launch the vessel. The method involves the ship entering the water broadside, aided by gravity, and often involves a small tugboat pulling the larger vessel.

Dramatic footage taken at the event on Saturday (15 April) shows the USS Cleveland rocking after hitting the water before sending a huge wall of water over the deck of the nearby tug. The crew on board the tugboat can be seen scurrying away from the wave as it crashes over them.

“The damaged area is well above the waterline, and no flooding occurred,” continues Koehler. “An assessment was completed, and permanent repairs are being planned. The root cause of the incident is currently under investigation by the Navy and shipbuilder.”

According to the US Department of Defense (DOD), any future ships are ‘planned to be launched using a shiplift system.’

Speaking to Newsweek, Mark Grove, a senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s Maritime Studies Centre at the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, says he couldn’t visually confirm whether the new vessel struck the tugboat from the footage provided. “[But] it does look very close, and is probably a bit too close for comfort,” he says.

The USS Cleveland is the 16th and final Freedom-variant LCS and the fourth ship to be named in honour of the city of Cleveland, Ohio, according to DOD. Previous USS Clevelands were the World War I cruiser (C 19), the World War II light cruiser (CL 55), and the Vietnam-era amphibious transport dock (LPD 7), decommissioned in 2011.

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45 responses to “Video: US warship collides with tugboat during launch”

  1. Diane M. Byrne says:

    Your description of side launches is unfortunately inaccurate. They don’t require a tugboat pulling the vessel down the ways. In fact, abundant side launches occur, and have long occurred, without pulling necessary. In many cases, the shipyard team removes blocks holding the vessel in place on the slipway, and then with the press of a button, they release hydraulic pressure, allowing gravity to take over. The vessel and the frame it sits upon slide down to the water. I personally have witnessed this at a shipyard, and there are dozens of online videos and descriptions from companies that specialize in it as well.
    Your article implies the giant splash and rocking were unusual occurrences, too, but they’re not; they’re the normal results of sideways launching.

  2. Jay says:

    I agree with everything you said and while it is normal for side launches to cause a wave and rocking assisted ones usually don’t nearly hit the vessel assisting. I think the assumption that something went wrong is not incorrect.

  3. Steve Young says:

    As Diane above is 100% correct, the tug was just “in the way” per se. A tugboat is usually kept in the vicinity, to limit movement as needed, AFTER the launch is completed. And the crew in the video were just being dramatic. Anyone that has ever seen a launch, understands the wave that comes off of it with a tidal wave effect. I’m sure the captain was spoken to for his choice of being so close.

  4. Kevin Finnegan says:

    Concisely put Diane! 😉 & A common launch method it is worldwide

  5. Chris Mcclure says:

    I agree…it also did not collide with the tug.

  6. Al Krause says:

    I have witnessed MANY side launches while growing up in the city of Sturgeon Bay, Wi. It was and still is the largest ship building port on the Great Lakes. Then Bay Shipbuilding, now a sister to the Marinette yard. They were always spectacular, yet scary to watch,especially a 700+ footer.Now with a floating dry dock that holds a 1000ft plus,not

  7. Mike says:

    Dont screw with cleveland

  8. Hisway says:

    clickbait idiocy

  9. Ralph says:

    Did the tug get her deck washed…yes
    Did the 2 ships contact?…No…
    If she had struck the tug , it either would have flat sunk, or done a version of Flipper tail dancing
    Just another journalistic negativity

  10. V.Tucker says:

    Thank you. Very interesting to me.

  11. John Lawrentz says:

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why that tug was even there. Let alone so close. We had to do “Risk Assessments” to go to the stinkin chow hall on Okinawa. Guess launching million dollar ships is just…meh…what could go wrong anyway. Not my circus not my clowns. Hope she has a long uneventful but deterrent life.

  12. Victor Cook says:

    Been using side launch technique since Elizabethan age ,in American schooners in the 18th century and onwards seemed like a normal launch except for the tug full of tourists it looked like being where they were

  13. Victor Cook says:

    Sorry Elizabethan age in England earlier than American schooners by century or more still very common way using the ways in a shipyard

  14. Cali Martin says:

    The title reads: US Warship COLLIDES with Tugboat. But they didnt collide. How do these news sources get away with this? I’d hope you’d not draw conclusions. Just report the substantiated truth.

  15. Manuel K Cruseturner says:

    Tug was too close to the launch, any idiot knows you can not be that close longer rope’s were the only issue here every thing else was perfect.

  16. John says:

    Splish Splash the tugboat was taking a bath

  17. Jeffrey M. Clark says:

    This is what u get when people speak on things they know nothing about.

  18. D Long says:

    This entire article is basically click bait! These boats didn’t collide! “” must be the National Enquirer of the boating industry.

  19. Rob says:

    Yes the launching was so clear as crystal there’s no incident that the tugboat was hit during the launching. The author or the one who put this news was blind and or had crossed eyes…

  20. Greg Hernandez says:

    It’s click bait.

    Nothing unusual.

    Sensationalized “news” these days is not surprising anymore either.

  21. Chris Bowman says:

    No collision moron…cool but shouldn’t be for clicks

  22. Troy B says:

    Contrary to what other comments have stated, it DID hit the tug. “The damaged area is well above the waterline and no flooding occurred,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Jamie Koehler said in an email. “An assessment was completed and permanent repairs are being planned. Root cause of the incident is currently under investigation by the Navy and shipbuilder.”

  23. Mark Caillouette says:

    That’s why you can’t believe anything, it’s for visual effects an sensual reactions rather than the truth!

  24. Paul says:

    Nincompoop .
    Someone could had been injured or killed.

  25. Paul says:

    Nincompoop !
    Very serious issue.

  26. Paul Y says:

    Nincompoop !
    Someone should be fine.

  27. York Paul says:


    Someone should be ashamed.

  28. Paul says:


  29. Chris says:

    No need to call anyone a moron. If you don’t have anything intelligent to say then keep your comments to yourself. Get a life

  30. Rob l says:

    The title of this article is clearly another example of attempting to capture an audience to read article. Maybe tilte it ‘Huge wave strikes Tugboat after USS Cleveland launch’

  31. Brian says:

    As someone that was actually present for this launch, I can assure you the boats DID make contact. There is photographic proof of the damage. It hit the upper starboard side just below the railing leaving about a 4ft dent in the hull.

  32. Ernie says:

    Launch went fine!

  33. John Busby says:

    If you enjoyed this subscribe to

  34. Oliver D Perkins says:

    I have to side with the writer of this article in a stance that is in opposition to the comment made by Diane. She states that the “description [given in the article] of side launches is unfortunately inaccurate”, giving 2 reasons for this inaccuracy: 1), stating, in reference to the sideways launch, that “they don’t require a tugboat…”: and 2), in reference to the resulting wave, that the article “implies the giant splash and rocking were unusual….” However, concerning her first claim of inaccuracy, the article does not, to my reading of it, address the necessity of a tugboat, as it merely states that this type of launch “often involves a small tugboat”: and as to her second claim, the article simply makes a statement of fact that the footage “shows the USS Cleveland rocking after hitting the water” and it does not address how common or uncommon this occurrence is. Hence, at least to my reckoning, Diane appears to be projecting meanings to the writer’s descriptions which are not there: a feat accomplished by using such phrases as “don’t require” and “were unusual” in her recounting of what is stated in the article. Furthermore, in an application of the maxim concerning Peter’s analysis of Paul telling us more about Peter than Paul, I do not believe it inappropriate for one to conclude that Diane is more apt to eisegesis than exegesis, in that she appears prone to imposing meanings upon text that are clearly could not be derived from the text itself.

  35. Noneuo says:

    Why name it after Cleveland?

  36. Cheryl Robinson says:

    Sounds like you viewers are on the mark. You don’t need to know physics and calculus to understand what’s happening. Anyone who’s spent a summer swimming jumping and diving in a pool knows about water and gravity.
    The tugboat Captain should be reprimanded for his reckless positioning of his boat.

  37. Charles Yowler says:

    Navy Sea Systems Command confirmed a collision with damage above the waterline. The ship will require repairs before leaving port.

  38. Cameron Mael says:

    Looks more like sailors having a bit of fun including the Captain. This type of work isn’t for everyone. Their idea of fun is dangerous…but probably good training on how to not do something…which is just as valuable as knowing a safer way. But what do I know…I was in the Army, lol.

  39. Jeannine says:

    What am I seeing? Before the ship was launched 0:08-:09, 0:14-:16 there were no marks on the ship at the end of the railing. When it gets back up from rocking, there’s two marks 0:36-:37, 0:43-:45 where the tug would’ve connected. Two different views, same thing. Two crappy videotapings?

  40. Jeannine says:

    My comment never showed, so here goes again.
    What am I seeing? At 0:08-:09, and 0:14-:16 there appears to be no marks on the ship at the end of the railing. But after launch, 0:36-:37, and 0:43-:45, there’s marks now showing. On two different views.

  41. Jacqueline says:

    I feel confident that hit or not the crew was laughing, therefore there were no human injuries. God bless them all for trying to do what’s right for USA. Also, relieving there seemed to be no name calling reported as a FL Loud Mouth would have if he was there!

  42. Nathan Smith says:

    I wonder why people do the whole click bait nonsense. This story would have been read by more people if they simply printed the truth. Now they risk people never coming to their site because of their shenanigans

  43. Dennis Hetherington says:

    I’ve worked on big boat’s before and after watching the footage I would say they didn’t have any cable long enough so someone suggested (what’s the worst thing that could happen) other than sinking a tugboat and putting a big hole in are brand-new warship? And we can always blame it on the Chinese are the Russians.

  44. B says:

    Tow line much too short. Greenhorn mistake.

  45. Tom Wilson says:

    Having spent my life in Maritime, the tug got hit. You can see how she reacts to both the wave and the collision. She jumps down at the stern when the collision occurred. Tug may have had minor damage on the top stern rail. The ship I cannot determine the damage from these pictures.

This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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