Main Baltimore Shipping Channel Due to Reopen at Weekend

The collapsed Francis Scott Key bridge
Updated Published

The main shipping channel into Baltimore port, which spans 213 meters wide, will reopen this weekend, 75 days after the 9,962 TEU container ship Dali lost power, collided with a bridge, and halted operations at most of the nation’s ninth-largest port.

Crews lifted the final large piece of the downed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which had been obstructing the Patapsco River’s main shipping channel, yesterday morning.

The Key Bridge Response Unified Command teams are now set to employ dredging buckets and a large salvage grab to clear smaller debris from the water, with the goal of reopening the full channel by this weekend.

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US released a preliminary report on the Dali’s fatal collision with Baltimore’s largest bridge.

The Dali, managed by Synergy Group and chartered by Maersk, experienced electrical blackouts approximately 10 hours before departing the Port of Baltimore and again shortly before crashing into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, resulting in the deaths of six construction workers.

Investigators revealed that the first power outage occurred when a crewmember accidentally closed an exhaust damper during maintenance, causing one of the ship’s diesel engines to stall.

Shortly after leaving Baltimore, another power outage, clearly documented in video footage, caused the vessel to lose steering and propulsion, leading to the crash into one of the bridge’s supporting columns.

The NTSB reported that the final outage happened about four minutes before the collision when electrical breakers unexpectedly tripped, cutting power to all shipboard lighting and most equipment when the ship was 1 km from the bridge.

Although the Dali crew managed to restore power, another blackout occurred approximately 320 meters from the bridge, disabling all three steering pumps and leaving the crew unable to steer.

Plans are underway to construct a replacement bridge by 2028, while insurers have indicated that the Dali accident could result in one of the largest marine insurance claims in history.