Oil Tanker Crashes Into Light Tower Off New York's Staten Island

An oil tanker slammed into a light tower off Staten Island on Saturday that helps watch over the main shipping lanes to New York Harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The shipping lanes remained open, but the Coast Guard urged boaters to avoid the Ambrose Light until it could be fixed, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Annie Berlin.

A Coast Guard vessel was being sent to set up temporary navigation aids until permanent repairs could be made to the tower, about 12 miles southeast of Staten Island and four miles outside the shipping channel.

There are other navigation aids in the area, "but it's very important that all of the mariners out there know about this one so they don't come too close to it," Berlin said.

The tanker Axel Spirit rammed into the 76-foot steel tower around 2 a.m., damaging its legs, the Coast Guard said. The tower's light — normally visible for about 18 miles — was still on, but no longer rotating and not reliable, Berlin said.

No injuries or pollution were reported. The accident happened amid roughly 5-foot waves and 25-knot winds as the stormy remains of Hurricane Noel approached the seas off New York.

A spokeswoman for the ship's owner, Vancouver, Canada-based Teekay Corp., did not immediately return telephone messages left at her office Saturday night.