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How the Baltimore Bridge Collapse Will Change Transportation Routes

Baltimore Bridge Collapse
  • The city of Baltimore is reeling in the wake of a devastating baltimore bridge collapse on Tuesday, March 26th, 2024.
  • A cargo ship named Dali struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a vital transportation artery, causing partial collapse.
  • The ship departed from Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal at approximately 00:24 local time on Tuesday, bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • According to MarineTraffic data, the ship initially maintained a straight southeast route along the Patapsco River.
  • However, at around 01:25, it suddenly diverted from its course and began to slow down.
  • Subsequently, all exterior lights on the ship went out, and smoke started emanating from the ship’s funnel.
  • Shortly afterward, it collided with the bridge.
  • Early Tuesday at 1:27 am (ET), the Dali container ship crashed into a concrete column supporting the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore Harbor.
  • The vessel, measuring 985 feet (300 meters) long, collided with a support of the 1.6-mile (2.6-kilometer) bridge.
  • Causing a section of the span to break and plunge into the water within seconds.
  • Unfortunately, six construction workers who were repairing potholes on the bridge are presumed to have lost their lives.
  • Rescuers saved two workers, recovered two bodies the next day, and are still searching for four individuals presumed deceased.
  • The incident caused a major US port to close, sparking concerns about disruptions to global supply chains.
  • Experts believe several factors, like low-quality fuel causing a power failure and the bridge being designed for smaller ships, might have contributed to the collapse.
  • This catastrophic event not only raises concerns about bridge maintenance but also sheds light on the details surrounding the ship accident that led to this disaster.
  • Synergy confirmed that all crew members, who are Indian nationals, and the two pilots.
  • Both US citizens from Baltimore, were safe, with no reports of injuries.
  • A shipping expert told the BBC that the crash was unusual despite possible explanations like engine failure, steering failure, or generator blackout.
  • Two pilots were present during the incident.
  • This is not the first incident involving the Dali; in 2016, while attempting to leave the Belgian port of Antwerp.
  • The ship scraped its stern along the quay, damaging the hull.
  • There were no reports of injuries or spillages.
  • The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPAS) reported that Singapore flagged The Dali in October 2016.
  • Certificates covering the structural integrity of the vessel and the functionality of its equipment were valid at the time of the incident, as confirmed by the MPAS.
  • The vessel underwent and passed two separate foreign port state inspections in June and September 2023.
  • In the June 2023 inspection, a faulty monitor gauge for fuel pressure was rectified before the vessel departed the port.


What Happened?

  • The cause of the incident appears to be a power failure aboard the Singapore-flagged container ship, the Dali.
  • The powerless vessel rammed into a bridge support, triggering a section of the bridge to crumble into the Patapsco River below.
  • Thankfully, a last-minute distress call from the Dali allowed authorities to halt traffic on the bridge, preventing further casualties.


Search and Recovery Efforts

  • The immediate aftermath focused on rescuing survivors and locating the missing.
  • Two individuals were pulled from the water, but tragically, six construction workers who were on the bridge at the time are presumed dead.
  • Search efforts have transitioned to a recovery operation due to the hazardous conditions.


Why Power Loss:

  • Video footage from the incident shows the Dali losing power just before the collision.
  • A power outage may have caused the ship’s crew to lose control of its steering, making it impossible to guide its path.
  • Investigators are currently examining whether dirty fuel played a part in the power failure experienced by the Dali ship.
  • Contaminated fuel can cause issues with a vessel’s engines and power generation systems, leading to malfunctions and loss of control.
  • Reports indicate that the ship’s engines experienced difficulties, with one engine even ceasing to function entirely.
  • The presence of a strong smell of burned fuel in the engine room further suggests potential fuel-related issues.


Francis Scott Key Bridge:

  • The Baltimore Bridge, commonly referred to as the Key Bridge, was initiated in 1977 as a tribute to Francis Scott Key.
  • A renowned Maryland poet of the 19th century credited with penning the lyrics to the US national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.
  • This bridge, stretching 1.6 miles (2.6 km), traverses the Patapsco River and Baltimore Harbor, providing a crucial link across these waterways.
  • The Patapsco River empties into the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States.
  • The Key Bridge boasted a main span of 1,200 feet (366 meters), ranking as the world’s third-longest continuous truss bridge.


What will be the impact of the bridge’s collapse?

  • The collapse of the Key Bridge will lead to significant disruptions in road traffic and shipping activities in the port of Baltimore.
  • The bridge, part of Interstate 695 known as the “Baltimore Beltway,” carried around 11.5 million vehicles annually.
  • While alternative routes exist, such as tunnels closer to the city, there’s anticipation of major traffic problems.
  • Especially for trucks carrying hazardous materials, authorities prohibit the use of the tunnel route.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted the uncertainty of the port’s closure timeline but stressed the inevitable and prolonged impact on supply chains.
  • Container shipping expert Lars Jansen labeled the event a “major disaster,” forecasting significant challenges for US importers and exporters along the East Coast.
  • Many merchant vessels are now trapped in the port, exacerbating the situation.
  • Despite efforts to divert cargo to other ports, around 800,000 vehicles and 1.3 million tons of imported cargo passed through the port in 2023.
  • About 4,000 commercial trucks a day used the bridge, and detours are expected to increase delivery times and fuel costs
  • However, Jansen believes the incident’s global impact will be relatively minor, despite inevitable delays and added costs.
  • The Port of Baltimore, America’s largest vehicle handling port, boasts the deepest harbor in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.
  • Situated closer to the Midwest than other East Coast ports, it offers convenient access to one-third of the nation’s population within an overnight drive.
  • Between $100 million and $200 million worth of cargo flows through the port daily. However, a halt in operations could lead to unemployment for many longshore workers, cautioned Buttigieg.



The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, triggered by a cargo ship collision, has led to major disruptions in road traffic and shipping activities.
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  • Francis Scott Key Bridge (Baltimore) [1].
  • Baltimore Bridge [2].

Frequently Asked Questions

The Dali container ship is owned by the Greek shipowner Oceanbulk and is operated by the Synergy Group.

The Dali ship can carry around 10,000 standard-sized metal shipping containers. At the time of the accident, it was carrying nearly 4,700 containers.

The ship hit the Key Bridge due to a power failure aboard the vessel, which resulted in the ship losing control and colliding with the bridge support.

The Baltimore bridge collapsed after a cargo ship, the Dali, struck one of its concrete support columns. This collision caused a section of the bridge to crumble and fall into the Patapsco River below.

The collapse of a Baltimore bridge, resulting from a container ship collision on Tuesday, could lead to several weeks of delays, reroutes, and increased costs for the shipping industry.

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