Salvors Remove Sections of Bridge from Dali Preparing for Bigger Lifts

Dali bow wreckage
Image from April 22 shows the challenges the team faces in this phase to remove debris from the bow of the Dali (USCG photo)

Published May 3, 2024 12:37 PM by The Maritime Executive


In its latest update, the Unified Command highlights that the salvors are preparing for the removal of the piece of the bridge lying on top of the Dali as the recovery efforts proceed in Baltimore. Pictures released by the various teams on site show the cutting operation underway and the lifting of smaller sections off the Dali as efforts also continue to clear the waterway.

A piece of span 17 was lifted from atop the bow of the Dali on May 2. This came after teams strategically removed 182 containers from the vessel to facilitate access for the removal of the pieces of the steel structure referred to in the salvage plan as “section four.” 

The command previously reported that after the containers were removed, they were building staging and positioning equipment to begin the precise cutting operation and rigging of the sections for removal from the ship. Once the sections are removed, they expect the Dali will be refloated with the plan calling for the vessel to be moved to a pier in Baltimore.


Steel pieces being removed from the Dali on May 2 (USCG photo)


"The complexities of this next phase of operations require thorough preparation, strategic planning, and specialized expertise," said Capt. David O’Connell, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Unified Command. "We have the right team making this work happen in the safest and most efficient way possible.”

The command highlights that the operation requires careful handling of roadbed material, crushed containers, and bridge fragments currently resting on the Dali’s bow. The salvage teams are meticulously preparing for the refloat of the Dali, ensuring all aspects of the wreckage impacts are thoroughly evaluated and addressed.


(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District photo)


Another one of the pictures released shows salvors using a heavy lift sheerleg crane ship, the Chesapeake 1000 and the HSWC500-1000 heavy-duty hydraulic salvage grab removing wreckage adjacent to the vessel.

At the same time, specialized equipment has been employed to closely monitor the position and movement of the Dali as the work proceeds. They are also monitoring for any potential impact on the pieces of steel structure and bridge wreckage that is in contact with the vessel.

Maersk advised customers yesterday, May 2, that while this phase of the operation is underway its largest vessels cannot enter Baltimore harbor. The company said for the time being, it continues to operate limited barge services through the temporary 20-foot deep channel.


Cutting on April 30 as the prepare to free the sections from the Dali (USCG photo)


More details also continue to come out on the potential cost to the global insurance sector. Two UK-based insurance companies updated investors yesterday during their quarterly reporting confirming what they were saying would be manageable exposure.

International specialist insurer Hiscox called the Dali a “complex claim,” noting in addition to the tragic loss of life and wreckage removal claims the industry is likely to face potential business interruption claims. There will also be claims for the cost of building the replacement bridge.

Hiscox said it expects the net loss to be “moderate,” but that it would be mitigated due to the reinsurance arrangements in place. The company noted that no associated reserves were booked in the first quarter. “Hiscox has no direct exposure to the business interruption policy of the port or the property policy covering the bridge, although Hiscox London Market participates in the reinsurance for the International Group of P&I Clubs.”

Another specialty insurer and provider of reinsurance products, Lancashire Holdings told investors it has some exposure. It said the claims will be “within expectations for this type of event.” Lancashire does not expect to change its undiscounted combined ratio guidance for the year (an insurance industry measurement of profitability based on claim losses compared to premiums collected).

No updates have been provided on the timeline. The teams continue to say they expect to reopen the deep channel around May 10 and have the full channel reopened by the end of May.