• Friday, June 21, 2024


Ship that destroyed Baltimore bridge towed away

The Singapore-flagged ship has been blocking one of America’s busiest ports since it lost power and hit a support column of Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26

The cargo ship ‘Dali’ moves from the Francis Scott Key Bridge to the Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. May 20, 2024. (REUTERS/Nathan Howard)

By: Shajil Kumar

The cargo ship that collided with a Baltimore bridge nearly two months ago, collapsing it and killing six highway workers, was refloated on Monday and was being towed back into port.

Live television images of the operation showed a flotilla of tugboats pushing and towing the M/V Dali away from the remains of the shattered Francis Scott Key Bridge and towards a marine terminal.

The Key Bridge Response Unified Command said the complex operation would take a total of some 21 hours and involve the Coast Guard, US Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of the Environment and other agencies.

It said the Dali was refloated at high tide and began moving around 7:00 am (1100 GMT).

The Singapore-flagged ship has been blocking one of America’s busiest ports since it lost power and plowed into a support column of the bridge on March 26, causing it to collapse and killing six road workers.

Moving the nearly 1,000-foot (300-metre) container vessel is a major step in reopening the key shipping channel. The accident shut down the port, though temporary channels have allowed some traffic in and out of Baltimore.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore told NBC on Sunday that workers were on track to completely clear the channel this month, which would restore full access to the port.

Authorities have been working around the clock to clear the fallen bridge and reopen the waterway after it was rendered impassable due to the wreckage.

Demolition experts last week used explosives to remove parts of the collapsed steel bridge trapping the Dali, which still has its 21-man crew onboard.

Salvagers then drew out up to 1.25 million gallons (4.7 million litres) of water previously pumped into the Dali to stabilize it as ballast, before releasing its anchors and mooring lines.

The port is a key hub for the auto industry, handling almost 850,000 autos and light trucks last year — more than any other US port, according to state figures.

In April the FBI launched a criminal probe into the incident, with agents boarding the Dali as part of the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is also investigating, said the ship had two electricity blackouts in the moments before the disaster.

It also said the crew had been tested multiple times, before and after the disaster, for drugs and alcohol, and that none had been detected.

Maryland state officials estimate it will cost $1.7 billion to $1.9bn (£1.34bn to £1.5bn) to rebuild the bridge and anticipates completion by fall 2028. (Agencies)

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