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Baltimore to Restore 24-Hour Channel Now that Dali was Removed

Dali Seagirt
Dali being moved alongside the Seagirt Terminal in Baltimore (USACE)

Published May 21, 2024 2:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Baltimore continues to mark progress on the recovery operation for the port as it marked eight weeks since the allision that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge. During a briefing this morning, May 21, conducted by Maryland’s Governor Wes Moore and representatives of the operation, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that it expects to restore 24-hour access to the port as the effort continues on track to reach the goal of fully reopening the federal channel by the end of May.

The day after the Dali was refloated and relocated to the terminal, Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath of the U.S. Coast Guard said a 400-foot wide and 50-foot deep channel would be opening. He reported that over 500 vessels have already used the alternate channels established around the wreck site.

At this point in the recovery, they highlight that there is no longer visible steel above the waterline outside the channel. State-led efforts are continuing in those areas and they expect to complete clearance outside the channel in June. In both areas, they are now working to remove debris that was embedded into the mud down to a depth of 10 to 15 feet.

Since the beginning of the operation, the Governor said over 10,000 tons of steel have been removed. In the next week, he expects more than 20 vessels will be entering the harbor using the expanded channel. However, they remain committed to completing the clearance to fully restore the full 700-foot channel.

 

Unobstructed view shows the extent of damage and debris on the bow of the Dali (USACE)

 

The Dali is expected to remain at the berth for four to six weeks while additional debris is cleared from the ship and investigations proceed. Damaged containers will also be removed and initial repairs made to the vessel which is expected to then transfer to Norfolk, Virginia. Claims consultant WK Webster is saying the laden containers will be removed in Norfolk so that they can be transshipped on other vessels.

One point of focus for the media has been the crew of the Dali. Governor Moore said that arrangements are being made so that the crew can go ashore now that the Dali is on the dock. There was no discussion of the crew going home.

Moore pointed out that the investigation is ongoing into what Lloyd’s he said has called likely the most expensive maritime casualty in history. When asked about the facts released by the NTSB last week, Moore said “Some of the findings are troubling.” He repeated his conviction that the ones responsible “need to be held accountable.”

For the moment, they were pausing to mark what the Governor called an “unprecedented response.” He noted they had recovered the bodies of the six victims but that there had been no major injuries during the recovery operation.

He concluded by saying the projection to have a new bridge by 2028 is aggressive. Moore said however they need to continue to move speedily to ensure the full recovery.