A fisheries survey vessel for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration launched in the Menominee River at the border of northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on June l6 last year. So why is it making headlines now?

Somehow dramatic videos of the 208-foot Reuben Lasker’s side-launch into the river — one of which involved flying wood, someone being knocked unconscious and a huge splash — remained relatively unnoticed on the Internet until now.

Videos of NOAAs Reuben Lasker Ship Launch Going Viral

(Image: Jason Bundoff/YouTube screenshot)

Videos of NOAAs Reuben Lasker Ship Launch Going Viral

(Image: Jason Bundoff/YouTube screenshot)

Videos of NOAAs Reuben Lasker Ship Launch Going Viral

(Image: Jason Bundoff/YouTube screenshot)

Video of the ship launch was posted on the viral site LiveLeak and was featured on the Today Show Monday, but YouTube videos of the christening and launch have been around since last year.

One video of the event was actually posted in January of this year by YouTube user Jason Bundoff who wrote that the “debris filled wave” took out him and his camera. Here’s a look at the footage via LiveLeak:

Going viral on Reddit, one user – djt832 – who claims to have been at the event wrote that the debris actually knocked a bystander unconscious:

I may have been at this ship launch. If it is the same one, the person did not die, but was knocked unconscious.

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 (Still assuming this is the same boat, 90% sure) 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.

EDIT: It was the same ship. Here is another video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSF8u7hvWtU As you can see, the wood is jammed in the supports to help it hold the ship

The Today Show reported one spectator suffering a broken leg from the incident while another received a few bruises.

Videos of NOAAs Reuben Lasker Ship Launch Going Viral

A view of the launch from the front of the ship. (Image: YouTube screenshot)

A look at the launch from the front of the boat though shows no such trouble as it hit the water:

Here’s another angle showing the impressive launch without hint of the destruction captured in the first video:

This angle shows the launch from the other side of the river:

(H/T: Jalopnik)