There has been a well-known local ship collision, just not in the ocean and technically not directly with a pier.
Joe Sheppard of the New Hanover County Public Library recalled the Oct. 2, 1961, incident whereas the USS North Carolina unexpectedly met the floating restaurant Fergus’ Ark at the Water Street Pier in the Cape Fear River.
According to the Cape Fear Museum Collection, “Fergus’ Ark restaurant was perhaps most famous for being damaged by the USS North Carolina when it was put into its permanent berth on the Cape Fear River. The restaurant reopened, and Mr. Fergus sued the North Carolina Battleship Memorial Commission for $25,000 in damages. The suit was settled in 1965 for a lesser amount.”
The restaurant was a converted 1920s ship, originally named the General Frederick C. Hodgkins. It had previously served as a banana boat, a floating casino, and as quarters for members of the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. In 1946, the ship was the U.S. Maritime Commission’s office space.
The CFM details the history of the Ark, which had several locations from 1952 until 1965, when the original restaurant closed, so that a Coast Guard facility could be built in its place. The owner then established Fergus’ Ark restaurants on Market Street, Carolina Beach Road and Oleander Drive.
As for our local ocean piers, none have experienced any serious damage from boats or ships. Staff at both Johnnie Mercer’s Pier and Jolly Roger Pier said no boats have ever struck their structures.
Mike Robertson of Kure Beach Fishing Pier also reported no boat collisions. He said, “A water spout hit us in the ‘70s. That was a novelty. It took off the rail. We just put it back up.”
In a related note, Robertson added that he did know of a shrimp boat hitting the Cherry Grove Pier in South Carolina several years ago.
Date posted: September 11, 2012
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