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Ship collides with notable lighthouse

NOV. 6 — Ambrose Light, the 76-foot structure off Staten Island, N.Y., was struck by a 799-foot tanker ship Saturday about 2 a.m., according to the Coast Guard.

The light, which watches over the main shipping lanes into New YorkHarbor suffered extensive damage to its support structure and stanchion. The revolving light bent forward, halting its rotation, according to the report. The ship that struck Ambrose Light is named Axel Spirit and operated by the Teekay Shipping Company. The vessel was bound for the Chevron facility in Perth Amboy, N.J.

Known to many sailors as a starting point for many a trans-Atlantic speed sailing attempts, the tower was built and pressed into use Aug. 23, 1967, according to the New Jersey Lighthouse Society. It cost $2.4 million to build, with a framework of four 42-inch-diameter steel pipe legs, and cross-braced with 18- and 20-inch diameter steel pipes. It was built to withstand most any kind of stress, but not the kind a 799-foot ship can dish out.

The Coast Guard got the initial report of the damage to Ambrose Light from the pilot of the Axel at 3:15 a.m. and pilots aboard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., flew a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to confirm the damage of the structure. The Coast Guard is in the process of thoroughly inspecting the structure and investigate the accident to determine why the ship hit the beacon.

No injuries or pollution were reported.

— Elizabeth Ellis