Progress Reported in Salvage Operations at Baltimore Bridge Site

April 12, 2024

Salvors continue to remove containers from the cargo ship Dali and clear wreckage at the Francis Scott Key Bridge incident site, according to the Unified Command, the group of U.S. Army, Coast Guard and federal, state and local transportation, energy and police agencies working together on the recovery.

The Dali cargo ship crashed into the bridge on March 26, collapsing the structure into the harbor and killing six people. Efforts to clear the wreckage and restore traffic through the shipping channel are ongoing.

Containers are being removed from the Dali as part of the effort to gain access to the portion of the Key Bridge that lies atop the ship. The transfer of containers from the Dali will continue in the coming days, as weather permits.

As of April 11, approximately 38 containers have been removed. Officials said removal of these containers is critical to being able to safely move the Dali and eventually fully re-open the Fort McHenry Channel. They said removing containers allows for safe access to then remove the pieces of the bridge that lie across the ship’s bow, taking weight off the ship and ultimately enabling the ship’s movement.

According to the ship owner, the ship has 4,679 containers.

Insurance Industry Readies for Historic Losses From Baltimore Bridge Tragedy

In addition to removing containers from the Dali, workers are removing wreckage and debris at the site, including breaking up of submerged roadbed from the bridge that fell into the channel.

“There has been incredible progress this week towards our goal to open the limited access deep draft channel,” Colonel Estee Pinchasin, commander, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, said in a Unified Command press release.

Response crews began removing shipping containers using a floating crane barge at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on April 7, 2024. The Unified Command is continuing efforts in support of removing the M/V Dali, which is required to fully re-open the Fort McHenry Channel. (Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command photo.)

After the container ship brought the bridge down, ship traffic entering and leaving the Port of Baltimore was suspended indefinitely. Workers have been able to open two alternate channels around the site and hope to open a third by the end of this month. While marine traffic is still limited, 69 vessels have transited through since the creation of the temporary alternate channels. A 2,000-yard maritime safety zone remains in effect around the incident site.

Investigators Focus on Electrical System of Ship That Hit Baltimore Bridge

Federal investigators have interviewed cargo ship personnel in their probe into of the tragedy. They have also been looking into the ship’s electrical system with help from its manufacturer, Hyundai.

The marine insurance industry is expecting historic insurance losses from the tragedy. The ship’s owner, Grace Ocean, has begun litigation to limit its liability to $43.7 million, reflecting the current value of the vessel ($42.5 million) and its cargo ($1.2 million) at the termination of its voyage. The owner arrived at that number after subtracting vessel repair costs (estimated as $28 million) and vessel salvage costs (estimated as $19.5 million) from a $90 million maximum estimate of the vessel’s value at the time of the voyage.

Video: Contracted salvors continue to remove bridge wreckage and debris from the Patapsco River in the Wake of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, April 11, 2024. Efforts continue to reopen the main shipping channel. (U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Himes)

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