Dali's Owner & Manager to Face Court Trial in Baltimore

Pillars outside a courtroom
Updated Published

Singapore-based shipowner Grace Ocean and shipmanager Synergy Group are set to face a trial in Baltimore after the city's legal team initiated a lawsuit yesterday. The case alleges that their ship, responsible for toppling a major bridge and causing six fatalities last month, departed from the port in "unseaworthy" conditions.

The legal proceedings concerning the collision of the Dali containership with the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26 are expected to be extensive and expensive. Concurrently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has begun a criminal investigation into the incident. Earlier in the month, the shipowner and manager filed a federal lawsuit to deny liability for the accident and attempt to cap their financial exposure at $43.7 million.

Attorneys for the city of Baltimore responded assertively yesterday, accusing the ship's management of "negligence" that led to the year's most notorious maritime disaster. 

A Baltimore City lawyer stated in the filing.“Reporting has indicated that, even before leaving port, alarms showing inconsistent power supply on the Dali had sounded…the Dali left port anyways despite its clearly unseaworthy condition.”

Further allegations from the city suggest that the crew was unskilled and neglectful, failing to properly maintain or operate crucial equipment, including the ship's engine and propulsion system.

As of now, Grace Ocean and Synergy have not issued a response to these claims.

Investigations revealed that the Dali experienced a power outage for only one minute and three seconds as it neared the bridge. The vessel's lead pilot attempted to avoid the collision by dropping the port anchor, which was meant to pivot the ship away from the bridge.

Since the incident on March 26, the 9,962 teu Dali containership remains trapped beneath twisted steel in the Patapsco River. Salvage teams have succeeded in creating three shallow pathways by removing significant quantities of steel from the demolished bridge.

The recovery efforts saw the addition of a 1,000-tonne hydraulic grab yesterday, a significant asset in expediting the removal of the collapsed bridge.

The official bridge clean-up team has released an update detailing the progress in clearing the bridge nearly a month after the accident. Authorities have expressed their goal to restore full operational capacity to the port by the end of May.