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Baltimore Bridge Wreck Removal: New Temporary Channel Opens

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard deploy buoys marking the Fort Carroll temporary alternate channel near the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland on April 19, 2024. (Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs Specialist Dylan Burnell)

Baltimore Bridge Wreck Removal: New Temporary Channel Opens

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 69560
April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024: Third Temporary Channel Opens

The Captain of the Port established the Fort Carroll Temporary Alternate Channel, providing additional limited access for commercially essential vessels.

Located on the northeast side of the main channel, the channel has a depth of 20 feet, a 300-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 135 feet.

Fort Carroll Temporary Alternate Channel
The Fort Carroll Temporary Alternate Channel, depicted in green. Infographic courtesy of Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command.

The opening of this channel is expected to facilitate approximately 15% of pre-collapse commercial activity.

“This additional channel increases the types of vessels able to transit inbound and outbound the port of Baltimore,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, Captain of the Port and Federal On-Scene Coordinator.

The new channel is in addition to two previous channels already open with depths of 11 and 14 feet. Efforts are underway to open an additional temporary channel, with a depth of 35 feet, by the end of the month.

April 15, 2024: Fourth Body Recovered

Another missing victim was recovered at the Key Bridge incident site on April 14, 2024, and was identified today, the Unified Command report. The body was found in a construction vehicle by the Unified Command salvage teams. The Maryland State Police, FBI, and other agencies are continuing the recovery operation and pledge to use all available resources. Two of the six victims remain missing.

“As we mourn the lives lost and continue the recovery operation, we recognize each missing individual is someone’s beloved friend or family member,” said Colonel Roland L. Butler, Jr., Superintendent of the Maryland Department of State Police, “Along with all of our allied law enforcement partners, we pledge to exhaust the physical and technical aspects of their training while deploying every available resource possible.”

In other news, reporting indicates the FBI has opened a criminal probe into the incident. Meanwhile, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott confirmed that the city is taking legal action against stakeholders of the containership Dali. The city has hired two law firms to spearhead the effort to “hold the wrongdoers responsible.”

Adam Levitt, co-founder one of the firms, said they intend to bring significant economic and environmental loss claims on behalf of the City of Baltimore and its residents. “We need to hold these entities accountable for the emotional toll and the substantial financial losses that the City of Baltimore and its residents are facing,” he said. Dali’s owner, charterer, manager/operator, and “manufacturer” of the M/V Dali, and any other potentially liable third parties, were all named as potential culpable entities.

April 14, 2024: Heavy Lift

USACE Baltimore Photo

The crane barge Chesapeake 1000 was used to move a 440-ton piece of support steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, part of the effort to reopen the federal channel.

April 12, 2024: General Average Declared

The owner of the M/V Dali, Grace Ocean Private Limited, have declared General Average. “Before any cargo can be released to owners at destination, General Average security will need to be provided,” the company said.

“No indication is communicated so far as when and where their vessel will be berthed and discharged, but this decision indicates that the Owners expect the salvage operations to result in high extraordinary costs for which they expect contribution from all salvaged parties under General Average,” MSC said in a customer advisory. The Dali, operated by Maersk, was carrying MSC customer cargo.

Richards Hogg Lindley (RHL), London has been appointed as their General Adjuster.

April 11, 2024: Container Removal Continues

The Unified Command is continuing to remove containers from M/V Dali and clear wreckage at the Key Bridge incident site.

As of April 11, now four days into the process, approximately 38 containers had been removed, a critical step for safely moving the M/V Dali and reopening the Fort McHenry Channel. The removal of containers will provide safe access to remove pieces of the Key Bridge that lay across the ship’s bow, reducing the weight and allowing the vessel to be refloated.

Response crews continue salvage and wreckage removal operations on the collapsed Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, April 10, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
Response crews continue salvage and wreckage removal operations on the collapsed Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, April 10, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Wreckage and debris removal, including breaking up submerged roadbed and removing sections of the bridge, is also ongoing. Despite limitations for marine traffic, 69 vessels have transited through the two temporary alternate channels opened last week.

“There has been incredible progress this week towards our goal to open the limited access deep draft channel,” said Col. Estee Pinchasin, commander of USACE, Baltimore District and part of the Unified Command. USACE released the below video illustrating the salvage plan:

A 2000-yard maritime Safety Zone around the incident site, and a Temporary Flight Restriction extends two nautical miles in radius from the bridge center up to 1500 feet above ground level. Authorities are also reminding the public that a zero-tolerance policy for UAS/drone use within the FAA-established “No Drone Zone,” with potential consequences including arrest, prosecution, fines, and imprisonment.

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command comprises the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland State Police, and Witt O’Brien’s representing Dali’s commercial manager Synergy Marine.

April 10, 2024: USACE Releases New Sonar Images

With no update from the Unified Command in three days, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released some new sonar images showing the underwater wreckage across the main Fort McHenry shipping channel.

The images were captured using the CODA Octopus high-definition imaging tool, which has been used to survey the wreckage throughout the response operation.

USACE continues to aim to open a 35-foot-deep by 280-foot-wide channel by the end of April, providing limited access to vessels until the 50-foot federal channel can potentially be opened by the end of May. The images provide a good idea of extent of what needs to be cleared in order to open the channels.

“The Limited Access Channel will permit larger ships in and out of the Port of Baltimore, such as marine tugs, Maritime Administration (MARAD) vessels, and those used for Roll-on/Roll-off shipping,” USACE Baltimore said on X.

Coda Octopus imaging
Coda Octopus imaging

Images courtesy USACE Baltimore via NAVSEA SUPSAL

Meanwhile, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy provided an update on the board’s ongoing investigation into the incident during her re-nomination hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. She revealed that investigators have interviewed all relevant crew members, the two pilots, and U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders, among others. She also revealed that the investigators are looking into the ship’s engine room equipment, particularly the electrical power system. She said the equipment’s manufacturer recently sent experts from overseas to inspect the circuit breakers. A preliminary NTSB report is expected in the first week of May.

Even though it’s been a few days since our last update from the Unified Command, we hope to hear something soon about progress on the bridge cutting, removal, and container extraction from the Dali.

April 7, 2024: Container Removal Begins

Response crews began removing shipping containers using a floating crane barge at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on April 7, 2024.
Response crews began removing shipping containers using a floating crane barge at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on April 7, 2024. Key Bridge Unified Command Photo

The Unified Command on Sunday began the process of removing containers from bow of the M/V Dali at the Key Bridge incident site to gain access to the bridge section atop the ship. Wreckage and debris removal is also ongoing, with parts taken to Tradepoint Atlantic at nearby Sparrows Point. Despite limited marine traffic, 32 vessels have transited through temporary alternate channels since their creation.

“The Unified Command is concurrently progressing on its main lines of effort to remove enough debris to open the channel to larger commercial traffic, refloat the M/V Dali and continue recovery efforts for missing loved ones,” said Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, federal on-scene coordinator, Unified Command. “Every day we are working to achieve these goals safely and efficiently.”

Salvage crews operating with the Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command move a section of Francis Scott Key Bridge to Sparrows Point in Baltimore, April 7, 2024.
Salvage crews operating with the Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command move a section of Francis Scott Key Bridge to Sparrows Point in Baltimore, April 7, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

USACE Baltimore said an estimated 50,000 tons of steel and concrete make up the wreck of the collapsed portion of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. “For comparison, that’s about equal to the weight of 3,800 fully loaded dump trucks — a helpful way of understanding the scale of the task at hand,” it wrote on X.

The removal of containers from the Dali is crucial for its safe relocation and the eventual full reopening of the Fort McHenry Channel. This process facilitates the removal of Key Bridge pieces from the ship’s bow, reducing weight and enabling the ship’s movement.

April 6, 2024: Salvage Continues

Response personnel prepare debris from the Francis Scott Key Bridge for removal from the Patapsco River, April 6, 2024. The Unified Command is working to restore flow of critical commerce in and out of Baltimore. Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command photo via USACE
Response personnel prepare debris from the Francis Scott Key Bridge for removal from the Patapsco River, April 6, 2024. The Unified Command is working to restore flow of critical commerce in and out of Baltimore. Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command photo via USACE

The Unified Command made progress in the Key Bridge incident salvage operations by removing a 156-ton piece of Span 19 from the navigational channel for future disposal.

Traffic through the alternate channels is gradually increasing, with 10 vessels transiting since yesterday.

“The Unified Command was quickly stood up and has been making progress every day since this incident took place,” said Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, federal on-scene coordinator, Unified Command. “Support from federal, state, local authorities, and the public has been indispensable. We are deeply grateful for these partnerships, which have been critical every step of the way.”

April 5, 2024: Third Victim Recovered

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, in Dundalk, Maryland, U.S., April 5, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, in Dundalk, Maryland, U.S., April 5, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard

Dive teams have recovered the body of Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval, one of the four missing construction workers, the Unified Command said late Friday. The Maryland State Police Underwater Recovery Team, along with other law enforcement, were involved in the recovery. Suazo-Sandoval’s family has been notified. Out of the six victims of the tragedy, three remain missing.

“The collapse of the Key Bridge is undoubtedly one of the most challenging tragedies we have faced as a law enforcement agency. Along with our local, state and federal public safety partners, we will not give up,” said Colonel Roland L. Butler, Jr., Superintendent of the Maryland Department of State Police. “There are families still waiting to hear if we have found their loved one. I can promise you, we are fully committed to finding closure for each of these families,” he said.

Biden Pledges Federal Support During Visit

President Joe Biden visited Baltimore on Friday to tour the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. During his visit, he promised that the federal government would cover the full rebuilding costs, while also pledging to hold those responsible for the disaster accountable.

“My administration is committed — absolutely committed to ensuring that the parties responsible for this tragedy pay to repair the damage and be held accountable to the fullest extent the law will allow,” Biden commented.

Ambitious Timeline

Following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement yesterday of a tentative timeline for reopening the Fort McHenry Channel, USACE Baltimore has provided more details about the plan. The plan prioritizes clearing the 50-foot deep federal navigation channel along with establishing a Limited Access Channel, measuring 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, potentially by the end of May. This will allow car carriers, or roll-on/roll-off vessels, one-way traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore while cleanup and recovery continues.

Illustration showing the channel reopening plan.
Channel reopening plan. Courtesy USACE Baltimore

Maryland Governor Wes Moore welcomed the ambitious timeline, stating that it provides the certainty needed for Baltimore to plan its recovery efforts.

“This ambitious timeline proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers offers a level of clarity and certainty that Baltimore needs to hear so we can collectively plan for continued recovery efforts — related to both our economy and our infrastructure. We and our partners across all levels of government have been pushing for a timeline, and now we have a target. We must do everything we can to meet that target,” Moore said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved an $8.26 million grant to increase vehicle handling capacity at the nearby Tradepoint Atlantic terminal at Sparrows Point. Located outside harbor, TPA’s terminal continues to function and will serve as a hub for both regularly scheduled and diverted cargo, as well as for storing and processing debris from the wreckage site.

April 4, 2024: USACE Reveals Tentative Timeline for Channel Reopening

Just hours after Maryland Governor Wes Moore held a press conference on the recovery efforts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a tentative timeline for reopening the federal Fort McHenry Channel and restoring navigation in and out of the Port of Baltimore.

USACE plans to open a limited access channel to the Port of Baltimore within the next four weeks, or by the end of April. This 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep channel will support one-way traffic for barge container service and some roll on/roll off vessels. Alternatively, USACE engineers are aiming to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity.

“Thanks to the exhaustive work of the Unified Command during the last two weeks, including underwater surveys and detailed structural analysis of the wreckage, we’ve developed a better understanding of the immense and complex work that lies ahead,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, USACE commanding general. “A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal, and we will carry out this work with care and precision, with safety as our chief priority.”

However, Spellmon acknowledged that theses timelines are “ambitious” and may still be impacted by adverse weather conditions or changes in the salvage plan.

“We are working quickly and safely to clear the channel and restore full service at this port that is so vital to the nation. At the same time, we continue to keep faith with the families of the missing and are working with our partners to help locate and recover their loved ones,” he said.

Limited Visibility: ‘Like Being in a Snow Storm with High Beams On’

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command said it continuing dive and salvage operations at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. Preparations are also underway to start removing undamaged containers from the bow of the motor vessel Dali, which has now been secured.

Information gathered from the dive operations is crucial for guiding salvage efforts on the Dali. The data, gathered by divers from Donjon Marine under the supervision of the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), helps to assess the extent of damage sustained by the vessel and to identify the exact locations where it is grounded.

SUPSALV is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District on the underwater salvage effort. “Our team is grateful for the opportunity to support and provide our expertise during the dive operations,” said Capt. Sal Suerez, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving. “Every person’s participation in this evolution is instrumental in guiding our salvage efforts effectively.”

In a press conference, Maryland Governor Wes Moore reiterated the challenges faced by divers, sharing underwater footage that showed the near-zero visibility. “It’s like being in a snow storm with high beams on,” Moore said. He explained that each diver is “buddied” with control room operators who guide them in real-time using advanced 3D imaging.

A screengrab of video showing the near-zero visibility conditions divers are faced with. Photo: Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command

Governor Moore also provided insight into the ongoing efforts to restore commercial activities at the port, including the transshipment of diverted cargo. He said that 75 rerouted containers had recently arrived to Baltimore by rail being unloaded from a ship at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

“This work presents a model for how we can move in partnership to get commercial activity to the port even when the channel is closed,” Moore said, while also acknowledging that this is not a long-term solution.

“The 75 containers we moved today represent less than 5% of the average number of containers that the Port processed daily before the collapse. We still have a long road ahead to getting vessel traffic back to full capacity – but we will.”

Speaking on behalf of the Unified Command, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath reiterated the UC’s main objectives are to reopen the deep-draft shipping channel, remove the Dali, and clear debris from the water. He also shared that Rigging is currently underway to remove undamaged containers from the Dali’s bow, however the actual removal had not yet begun.

Meanwhile, USACE Baltimore said engineers are placing devices on each of the steel beams to understand how much force each beam is under.

April 3, 2024: Weather Challenges Slow Wreck Removal and Recovery Efforts

Severe weather conditions, including thunderstorms and high winds, impeded wreck removal and recovery efforts at the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Wednesday, causing a temporary halt to dive and crane operations.

“Current conditions make it unsafe for rescue divers to return to the water. We have to move fast — but we cannot be careless,” said Maryland Governor Wes Moore during an afternoon press conference with members from the Unified Command. “My directive is to complete this mission with no injuries and no casualties.”

Moore described the underwater damage as ‘absolutely staggering,’ as evidenced by the 3D sonar images released yesterday revealing the mangled wreckage partially buried in mud. He said the images underscore the complexities involved in cleaning up the wreckage and reopening the main shipping channel.

Underwater survey image showing the collapse Baltimore Key Bridge
Underwater survey image showing the collapse Baltimore Key Bridge captured by the CODA Octopus sonar imaging tool. Image courtesy USACE Baltimore

Poor visibility is also posing another challenge for divers.

Removal of Containers

Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath of the U.S. Coast Guard reiterated that the main objectives of the Unified Command remain reopening the deep-draft shipping channel, removing the Dali, and clearing debris from the waterway. He also disclosed that crews are prepared to begin removing undamaged containers from the bow of the ship, pending a break in the weather.

Gilreath said the two temporary channels have already seen 8 commercial vessel transits primarily involving tugs and barges in both directions. “Small steps in a long marathon,” he said.

Despite the adverse weather conditions, Colonel Estee S. Pinchasin, Commander of USACE Baltimore, emphasized that salvage operations continue even if dive and crane operations are on hold. She said current plans are to remove the collapsed 3,000 to 4,000-ton bridge span that is on top of the vessel, as well debris from the far side of the channel that will allow the new temporary channels to accommodate larger vessels.

March 29, 2024. Unified Command Photo
Picture taken March 29, 2024. Unified Command Photo

Separately, the Unified Command issued an update that divers have continued to conduct regular salvage assessments and mapping out plans for future wreckage removal.

“Our operations continue but will be adjusted as necessary in response to any adverse weather conditions,” said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Frank Schiano, Salvage Branch Director of the Key Bridge Response 2024. “The Unified Command remains committed to re-opening the port while ensuring safety and environmental protection.”

It appears there are three main contractors working under the Unified Command. They are Donjon Marine, responsible for the clearing the channel, Resolve which is salvaging the ship, and Skanska which is working on portions of the bridge.

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command continues to coordinate response operations despite the challenging weather conditions in Baltimore, Maryland, April 3, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command continues to coordinate response operations despite the challenging weather conditions in Baltimore, Maryland, April 3, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

No Fuel Spill Detected

The Maryland Department of the Environment has reported no detection of fuel-related contaminants in water samples taken from upriver and downstream of the site. These findings will establish a baseline for ongoing water quality monitoring throughout the response, recovery, and reconstruction phases.

The 2,000-yard safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect.

April 2, 2024: One Week Since the Accident

The Captain of the Port (COTP) has established a second temporary channel on the southwest side of the main Fort McHenry Channel near Hawkins Point for essential commercial vessels.

The second temporary channel is marked with lighted aids for navigation and its use is at the discretion of the COTP and limited to daylight hours. The channel has a controlling depth of 14 feet, a horizontal clearance of 280 feet, and a vertical clearance of 124 feet—which is slightly larger than the 11-ft-deep, 264-ft-wide, and 95-ft-tall clearance of the first channel that opened yesterday, but significantly less than the 50-foot main channel that is closed.

“The opening of these two alternate channels and transit of critical response resources, as well as the first commercial traffic movements through the area, is a significant milestone in our response efforts,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Baxter Smoak, operations section chief of the Key Bridge Response 2024. “Our number one priority remains the opening of the deep draft channel. We are simultaneously focused on opening additional routes of increased capacity as we move forward.”

U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) Baltimore drops buoy channel markers in the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, April 2, 2024.
U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) Baltimore drops buoy channel markers in the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, April 2, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Sonar Images Reveal Extent of Underwater Damage

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District has released the first underwater sonar images of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge. The imagery, supplied by the the U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea System Command’s (NAVSEA) Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), were captured using an underwater imaging tool known as “CODA Octopus,” which will help guide divers using real-time 3D sonar due to the reduced visibility of the water.

“With visibility clouded to just one to two feet because of the four to five feet of mud and loose bottom of the Patapsco River… divers must be guided via detailed verbal directions from operators in vessels topside viewing real-time CODA imagery,” USACE Baltimore wrote on X.

Underwater survey image showing the collapse Baltimore Key Bridge
Image courtesy USACE Baltimore
Underwater survey image showing the collapse Baltimore Key Bridge
Image courtesy USACE Baltimore
Underwater survey image showing the collapse Baltimore Key Bridge
Image courtesy USACE Baltimore
Underwater survey image showing the MV Dali
Image courtesy USACE Baltimore

Tradepoint Atlantic

Meanwhile, Tradepoint Atlantic (TPA), which operates a bulk and break bulk terminal just outside the Francis Scott Key Bridge, provided an update on operations to assist with restoration and recovery efforts. The company’s marine terminal (see map below) is the only terminal at the Port of Baltimore that sits outside the bridge and it remains open to both scheduled arrivals and redirected cargo. Over the next fifteen days, Tradepoint Terminals is expected to receive six regularly scheduled roll-on/roll-off vessels, plus an additional nine redirected vessels. Combined, these vessels will receive and process 10,000 automobiles.

It has also cleared a five-acre facility at the terminal to receive and process recovered bridge material.

The Tradepoint Atlantic facility, pictured bottom right in pink, in relation to the Francisco Scott Key Bridge and other Port of Baltimore terminals.
The Tradepoint Atlantic facility, pictured bottom right in pink, in relation to the Francisco Scott Key Bridge (E) and other Port of Baltimore terminals (in pink and light pink). Detailed map here. Map courtesy Maryland Port Authority

April 1, 2024: First Vessel Departs Baltimore Harbor

The tugboat Crystal Coast, pushing a fuel barge, was the first vessel to use the temporary alternate channel created after the Key Bridge collapsed into the federal waterway on Tuesday. The barge is used to provide jet fuel to the Department of Defense and was en route to Dover Air Force Base.

The Captain of the Port has established a temporary alternate channel near Sollers Point for essential commercial vessels, located on the northeast side of the main ship channel near the Francis Scott Key Bridge, as part of a phased approach to opening the main federal Fort McHenry Channel.

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The tug Crystal Coast pushing a fuel barge departs Baltimore Harbor using a temporary channel established following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, April 1, 2024. Unified Command Photo

The new temporary channel, which is marked with government-lighted aids for navigation, has a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and a 95-foot vertical clearance. Its use is at the discretion of the Captain of the Port and is only allowed during daylight hours.

The Unified Command said it is establishing a second, temporary alternate channel on the southwest side of the main channel to accommodate deeper draft vessels with an expected draft restriction of 15 to 16 feet.

Two crane barges are working to lift wreckage in Baltimore, which will be transferred to a barge and processed at Tradepoint Atlantic using a land-based crane before disposal.

The U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is responsible for contracting out cranes, which include the 1,000-ton lift capacity derrick barge Chesapeake 1000, the 200-ton lift capacity revolving crane barge Ferrell and the 150-ton lift capacity crane barge Oyster Bay. All are now on scene. Another 400-ton lift capacity barge is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore next week.

“The [Defense Department] continues to support the whole-of-government response in Baltimore. Through the Unified Command, the U.S. Coast Guard is coordinating this effort in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Navy and many others,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters.

The current 2,000-yard safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect.

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command in Baltimore includes the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland State Police, and Witt O’Brien’s representing Synergy Marine, manager of the MV Dali.

March 31, 2024: Bridge Cutting Continues, Plans for Alternate Channel Emerge

The Unified Command continues operations to remove wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore.

On Sunday, demolition crews cut parts of the collapsed bridge truss, with two crane barges actively working on the scene. The removed wreckage is transferred to a barge and later processed at Tradepoint Atlantic. Each lifting operation requires an engineering analysis to guide the salvage plans.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) has lowered the pressure of the underwater natural gas pipeline, which runs under the incident site, to 35psi. The Unified Command is working with BGE to inert the pipeline and eliminate hazards and risks.

Three dive teams are surveying sections of the bridge and the M/V Dali for future removal operations.

Alternate Channel

Meanwhile, the Captain of the Port is planning to establish a temporary alternate channel near the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vessels.

“This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore,” said Capt. David O’Connell, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024. “By opening this alternate route, we will support the flow of marine traffic into Baltimore.”

This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel. The temporary channel will be marked with government lighted aids to navigation and will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance 96 feet—allowing smaller vessels to pass.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District, published a infographic showing the salvage plan:

A 2,000-yard safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment. Entry into the safety zone requires permission from the COTP or a designated representative.

The COTP will issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners via VHF-FM marine channel 16, with mariners requested to monitor this channel for the latest information.

A Debris Reporting Hotline has also been established. The public is advised to contact +1 (410) 205-6625 if they encounter any debris.

March 30, 2024: Bridge Cutting Commences

The M/V Dali is shown with the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 30, 2024, in Baltimore.
The M/V Dali is shown with the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 30, 2024, in Baltimore.

The Unified Command began the removal of debris from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse on Saturday.

Highly trained demolition crews started by cutting the top portion of the collapsed bridge’s north side into smaller sections for safe removal. Salvage teams will use gas-powered cutters to disassemble the steel bridge.

Salvage operations on the Francis Scott Key Bridge commenced March 30, 2024, in Baltimore, Maryland. Salvage teams use an exothermic cutting torch to systematically separate sections of the steel bridge, which will be taken to a disposal site. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Reaves)

At the same time, divers are assessing the underwater work site to aid future operations. Each lifting operation requires an engineering analysis to guide salvage plans.

Two crane barges, a 650-ton crane and a 330-ton crane, are working to transfer the sections to a barge for processing at Tradepoint Atlantic before being taken to a disposal site.

Demolition crews with the Unified Command begin cutting the top portion of the north side of the collapsed bridge into smaller sections for safe removal by crane in the Patapsco River, in Baltimore, Maryland, March 30, 2024. U.S. Coasts Guard Photo
Demolition crews with the Unified Command begin cutting the top portion of the north side of the collapsed bridge into smaller sections for safe removal by crane in the Patapsco River, in Baltimore, Maryland, March 30, 2024. U.S. Coasts Guard Photo

Underwater Pipeline

The Unified Command is collaborating with Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) to reduce pressure on an underwater pipeline running under the incident site. The goal is to inert the pipeline to eliminate hazards and risks, with operations continuing through the weekend.

The Unified Command maintains a 2000-yard maritime Safety Zone for the M/V Dali recovery efforts, and a Temporary Flight Restriction up to 1,500 feet above ground level within a three nautical mile radius.

Barge cranes are shown near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Bacon/Handout via REUTERS
Barge cranes are shown near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge on the Patapsco River, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. March 30, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Bacon/Handout via REUTERS

The NTSB today revealed that the container ship Dali had a displacement of 112,383 metric tons (about 248 million pounds) at departure, with a gross tonnage of 95,128, which is a measure derived from the vessel’s internal spaces.

March 29, 2024: Equipment and Marine Assets Mobilized

Responders with the Unified Command conduct an overflight assessment of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, March 29, 2024. The Key Bridge was struck by the Singapore-flagged cargo ship Dali early morning on March 26, 2024. (Unified Command courtesy photo)
Responders with the Unified Command conduct an overflight assessment of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, March 29, 2024. Unified Command Photo

The Unified Command has sent the Donjon Marine crane barge Chesapeake 1000 crane barge to the incident site, with plans to dispatch an additional seven cranes, ten tugs, and nine barges over the next 120 hours. Weeks Marine’s 500-ton crane barge Weeks 533 is one of the cranes en route.

Engineers with the Unified Command plan salvage operations for the Dali, assessing the situation to determine the safest and most effective approach.

An overflight revealing no additional sheen in the waters around the M/V Dali.

March 29, 2024. Unified Command Photo
March 29, 2024. Unified Command Photo

Crews are monitoring for oil spills and hazardous substances at the incident site in Baltimore, with 2,700 feet of sorbent boom deployed and the same amount of hard containment boom. An additional 16,000 feet of boom is on standby. The effectiveness of the containment measures is being assessed and materials are replaced as needed.

The Unified Command is maintaining a 2000-yard Safety Zone and a Temporary Flight Restriction for the M/V Dali recovery efforts to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment from potential hazards associated with salvage work.

March 28, 2024: Response Kicks Into Gear

A U.S. Coast Guard patrol vessel travels along the Patapsco River, following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 28, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
A U.S. Coast Guard patrol vessel travels along the Patapsco River, following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 28, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

The Unified Command continues coordinating response operations to the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore.

Dive operations and vehicle recovery in Baltimore are paused due to hazardous conditions caused by submerged wreckage and debris.

Safety Zone

A 2000-yard Safety Zone is established by the Unified Command for the M/V Dali recovery efforts to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment from potential hazards associated with salvage work.

On-scene crews are monitoring for oil spills and hazardous substances at the incident site. Measures include 2,400 feet of sorbent boom deployed at the site, 2,400 feet of hard containment boom around the vessel, and an additional 1,000 feet of boom on standby.

The Unified Command conducted visual inspections of water quality and collecting samples for testing. First responders observed a sheen around the vessel.

Hazmat Containers

The Unified Command reports that out of 56 containers with hazardous materials, 14 were impacted and subsequently assessed by an industrial hygienist for potential hazards.

Air monitoring on and around the vessel is conducted, with no volatile organic compounds or flammable vapors detected. Pollution and debris removal operations are ongoing. No atmospheric hazards have been identified, and safety is being continuously ensured by the Unified Command.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Witt O’Brien’s, representing Dali’s manager Synergy Marine, have now joined the Unified Command.

NTSB has now released B-Roll footage from on board the Dali.

Feds Release $60 Million

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced the immediate availability of $60 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds for the Maryland Department of Transportation to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The funds serve as a down payment toward initial costs for emergency repairs, design, and reconstruction of the bridge.

March 27, 2024: Unified Command

Containership Dali entangled with destroyed baltimore bridge
A view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 27, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Segar

A Unified Command and Joint Information Center have been established in Baltimore to coordinate response and disseminate information for the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. The command includes the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland State Police, and Synergy Marine, Dali’s manager.

“The Unified Command’s operational priorities are ensuring the safety of the public and first responders, accountability of missing persons, safely restoring transportation infrastructure and commerce, protecting the environment, and supporting the investigation,” the Unified Command explained in a statement.

Divers recovered the first two bodies from the site. Four remain missing and are presumed dead.

This accident has been classified by the US Coast Guard as a major marine casualty. NTSB will lead the investigation, and the Office of Marine Safety will investigate and establish the probable cause. 

NTSB

The NTSB held a press conference during which NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy expressed condolences to the victims and their families, provided details about the investigative process and progress so far, and provided some numbers on the amount and type of hazardous cargo on board. The independent agency also released a timeline of events from Dali’s VDR data, providing some preliminary factual evidence in the critical moments from when the Dali left the Seagirt Marine Terminal to when it struck the bridge at around 01:29 local time on March 26th.

March 26, 2024: MV Dali Strikes Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge

Container-ship Dali entangled in the Baltimore bridge
View of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard

The Singapore-flagged Dali, a 984.3-feet-long containership, was transporting 4,679 twenty-foot equivalent containers (TEUs) when it reportedly lost power and collided with a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday morning, causing the bridge to collapse in a matter of seconds.

The accident occurred just 50 minutes after the vessel departed from the Seagirt Marine Terminal with 21 crew members and two pilots on board on a voyage to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Tragically, six workers who were on the bridge at the time of the accident are missing.

A large portion of the collapsed bridge remains across the vessel’s bow, and the vessel remains firmly in place on the bridge pier. No pollution has been reported at this time.

Officials say initial damage estimates for the vessel and the bridge are greater than $500,000, exceeding the threshold for classification as a “major marine casualty,” which also includes the loss of six or more lives or the loss of a mechanically propelled vessel (MV) of 100 or more gross tons.

NTSB investigators on the cargo vessel Dali, which struck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024. (Photo: Peter Knudson/NTSB)
NTSB investigators on the cargo vessel Dali, which struck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024. (Photo: Peter Knudson/NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched a go team to investigate, arriving at approximately 6 a.m. Tuesday morning just hours after the accident.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency.

USACE Emergency Activated

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District has activated its Emergency Operations Center, clearing the way for more than 1,100 engineering, construction, contracting and operations specialists to provide support to local, state and federal agencies.

USACE is leading the effort to clear the Federal channel in Baltimore as part of a larger interagency recovery effort. They are providing underwater assessment capabilities, structural engineering support, and waterway debris management. They are also prepared to provide hydrographic and topographic surveying. The Baltimore District operates and maintains over 290 miles of federal navigable channels within the Susquehanna River watershed.

“Our thoughts are with those impacted by the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge,” said Baltimore District Commander Col. Estee Pinchasin. “Our Emergency Managers are closely monitoring the incident and coordinating with partner agencies for any potential support requests.”

DALI Ownership and Management

The Dali is owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and managed by Synergy Marine of Singapore. It is time chartered by Maersk and is carrying Maersk customers’ cargo, however, no Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel.

“We are deeply concerned by this incident and are closely monitoring the situation,” Maersk said in a statement. “We understand the potential impact this may have on your logistics operation, and will communicate to our customers once we have more details from authorities.”

Vessel Information:

  • Name: Dali
  • Capacity: 10,000 TEU
  • Onboard Units: 4,679 containers, 55% of which are empty (814 20ft containers, 3,823 40ft containers, 42 45ft containers)
  • DWT:116,851.
  • Crew: All Indian, 22 in total
  • Owner: Grace Ocean Private Ltd
  • Movement: Outbound from Baltimore to Colombo

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