Ship and Bridge Examination: Updates on Baltimore Key Bridge Collapse

Ship and Bridge Examination: Updates on Baltimore Bridge
Baltimore bridge collapses after powerless cargo ship rams into support

Ship and Bridge Examination: Updates on Baltimore Key Bridge Collapse

In a significant incident early on Tuesday morning, a container ship collided with the landmark Francis Scott Key Bridge near the US city of Baltimore, resulting in a substantial portion of the bridge collapsing. This collision caused several vehicles on the bridge to plunge into the waters of the River Patapsco, and as of now, rescuers are still searching for six individuals believed to be in the river.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has declared a state of emergency, and as a consequence, the Port of Baltimore remains closed to ships. President Joe Biden has pledged that the federal government will cover the entire cost of rebuilding the bridge and reopening the port.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, commonly known as the Key Bridge, was opened in 1977 in honor of Francis Scott Key, a prominent Maryland poet who penned the words for the US national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. Spanning 1.6 miles (2.6km), the bridge crossed the Patapsco River and Baltimore harbor, boasting a main span of 1,200ft, which was the third longest of its kind worldwide.

The container ship involved in the collision, named Dali, is Singapore-flagged and was originally constructed for Greek shipowner Oceanbulk by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries. Currently operated by the charter vessel company Synergy Group and temporarily leased by container shipping giant Maersk, the ship was en route from Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal to Colombo, Sri Lanka, when the incident occurred.

According to reports, the ship abruptly diverted from its course and began to slow down around 01:25 local time, just before colliding with the bridge. The crew, consisting of all Indian nationals, and the two pilots on board have been accounted for, with no reports of injuries. The crash itself is attributed to factors such as engine failure, steering failure, or generator blackout, as suggested by shipping experts.

The impact of the bridge collapse is expected to result in significant disruption to road traffic and shipping activity in the Port of Baltimore for an extended period. With the Key Bridge forming part of Interstate 695, a major artery around Baltimore city, an estimated 11.5 million vehicles per year will be affected. Furthermore, transportation experts anticipate a major and protracted impact on supply chains, with delays and added costs likely for US importers and exporters, and several merchant vessels currently trapped in the port.

While the incident poses significant challenges locally, its global impact is expected to be relatively limited. Nevertheless, efforts to rebuild the bridge and resume port operations will be crucial for restoring normalcy to the region’s transportation and shipping networks.

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