NATIONAL NEWS

Dali cargo ship leaves Baltimore for Virginia, nearly 3 months after bridge collapse

Jun 24, 2024, 6:26 AM | Updated: 4:28 pm

The cargo ship Dali headed out of Baltimore for Virginia on Monday, nearly three months after it lost power and crashed into one of the Francis Scott Key bridge’s supporting columns and caused the bridge to collapse.

The 984-foot Dali started moving shortly before 8:30 a.m. with four tugboats.

The Dali was sailing under its own power with a full crew of 22 and six salvage experts, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release.

The Coast Guard is overseeing the voyage and providing a 500-yard safety zone around the Dali during its trip.

The Dali is scheduled to go directly to Virginia International Gateway to have roughly 1,500 cargo containers off-loaded to reduce draft, the Coast Guard said. The vessel is then scheduled to travel further to Norfolk International Terminal, where it is scheduled to undergo continued salvage and repairs from damage caused during the bridge collapse.

Shortly after leaving the Port of Baltimore early on March 26, the ship lost power and propulsion and crashed into one of the bridge’s supporting columns, killing six construction workers.

On May 20, the Dali was refloated and guided back to port. The vessel had been stuck amid the wreckage for almost two months, with a massive steel truss draped across its damaged bow.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found the ship experienced two power outages in the hours before it left the Port of Baltimore. In the moments before the bridge collapsed, it lost power again and veered off course. The agency is still investigating what caused the electrical failures.

In an update to its May investigative report, the NTSB said Monday that investigators have completed in-person interviews with the Dali’s crew.

The update noted that investigators have removed an electrical component known as a terminal block, as well as two portions of control wiring associated with the terminal block.

“We continue to examine the removed components at the NTSB Materials Laboratory,” the board said. “We will continue to evaluate the design and operation of the vessel’s electrical power distribution system, and investigate all aspects of the accident to determine the probable cause and identify potential safety recommendations.”

Last week, under an agreement confirmed by a federal judge, some members of the Dali’s crew were allowed to return home. Of the 10 allowed to leave, eight have done so, said Darrell Wilson, a spokesperson for ship manager Synergy Marine. The roughly two dozen total seafarers hail from India and Sri Lanka.

Under the agreement, the crew members who return home must be available for depositions.

Thousands of longshoremen, truckers and small business owners have seen their jobs impacted by the collapse, prompting local and state officials to prioritize reopening the port and restoring its traffic to normal capacity in hopes of easing the economic ripple effects.

Earlier this month, officials announced the reopening of the Fort McHenry federal channel, after clearing wreckage from the 700-foot-wide by 50-foot deep channel.

Monday also was the submission deadline in Maryland for proposals to rebuild the bridge. Procurement regulations prohibit the state from providing information about the proposals until the contract award is made and the state announces the design-build team. The state estimates the award and announcement sometime in mid- to late summer.

Officials have said they hope to rebuild the bridge by 2028.

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Dali cargo ship leaves Baltimore for Virginia, nearly 3 months after bridge collapse