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Crews Blast Baltimore Bridge Wreckage Off Cargo Ship

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Crews Blast Baltimore Bridge Wreckage Off Cargo Ship

Authorities are optimistic that the cargo ship Dali will soon be refloated after salvage crews used explosives to demolish wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which collapsed onto the ship’s bow earlier this year.

Read also: Baltimore Port Progress: Clearing Path for Vessel Traffic After Bridge Collapse

On Monday, a salvage crew detonated a series of small explosives to remove the largest remaining section of the bridge. This controlled demolition targeted a four-ton chunk of debris nearly seven weeks after the incident, which resulted in the deaths of six construction workers and temporarily disrupted access to the Port of Baltimore. Dramatic images captured the blasts, showing orange flashes and black smoke as the wreckage plunged into the water, splashing back onto the ship.

Mayor Brandon Scott commended the Key Bridge Response Unified Command team for their precise and safe execution of the demolition, and for their dedication to the city’s recovery efforts. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Estee Pinchasin expressed satisfaction with the operation, noting that a significant amount of steel had been removed. Further surveys will ensure the cargo ship sustained no additional damage.

The demolition, initially scheduled for the weekend, was delayed due to anticipated bad weather. The ship is not yet fully free, with officials planning to investigate and clear the remaining trusses and underwater debris to facilitate refloating and movement.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore announced that a navigable channel, 50 feet deep and 700 feet wide, is expected to be ready by the end of the month. Temporary channels have already enabled some ship operations to resume. Moore highlighted that large ships are now passing through the port, with about 30 vessels and barges expected in the coming week.

US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath indicated hopes to move the Dali within the next two days. Last week, Maryland State Police recovered the remains of the sixth and final victim, 37-year-old José Mynor López. López and five others were working on the bridge at the time of the collapse and perished in the disaster.

Governor Moore emphasized ongoing support for the victims’ families, noting the challenges of the recovery process and praising the team for their steadfast efforts despite the difficult conditions.

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Baltimore Takes Legal Action Against Ship Owner and Operator Following Bridge Collision

Baltimore has initiated legal proceedings against the owner and operator of the cargo ship responsible for colliding with the Francis Scott Key Bridge, leading to its collapse last month.

The legal claim, filed on Monday, targets Grace Ocean Private Limited, the owner, and Synergy Marine PTE LTD, the manager of the vessel named Dali. Attorneys representing Baltimore’s mayor and City Council allege that both companies failed to provide competent crew members with adequate skill and training, as stated in the claim obtained by CNN. The city is seeking unspecified damages from both entities.

The incident occurred in the early hours of March 26 when the Dali, weighing 213 million pounds and carrying cargo containers, struck the bridge, resulting in its immediate collapse. The collision claimed the lives of at least six individuals and caused extensive property damage, severely disrupting the region’s economic activities.

According to the claim, the Dali departed from port despite signs indicating an inconsistent power supply, raising questions about the vessel’s readiness for navigation.

Baltimore’s legal action aims to ensure appropriate compensation for the losses incurred by the city, its residents, and businesses due to the Key Bridge catastrophe. The City Law Office emphasized the pursuit of justice through active litigation, refraining from further comment outside the judicial forum.

Earlier this month, Grace Ocean and Synergy Marine sought a $43.6 million limit on potential liability payouts through a petition in federal court. However, Baltimore has urged the court to reject this request, underscoring the severity of the damages caused by the collision.

Responding to the legal action, a representative for Grace Ocean and Synergy Marine stated that further comments would be inappropriate at this time, respecting ongoing investigations and potential legal proceedings.

Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Coast Guard are conducting a criminal investigation into the ship crash. Federal authorities are also examining whether the crew failed to report an earlier issue with the vessel that delayed its departure, further complicating the legal and investigative landscape surrounding the incident.

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Stable Shipping Rates Amid Baltimore Bridge Collapse, but Challenges Loom Ahead

Despite the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, ocean freight container shipping rates have remained stable, according to data from Xeneta, an ocean freight analytics platform.

Xeneta reports that average spot rates from the Far East to the US North East Coast, including Baltimore, have seen a slight decrease of 1 percent since the bridge collapse, standing at $5,421 per FEU. Rates for other US East Coast ports, such as New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), have decreased by 3 percent in the same period.

Read also: Baltimore Bridge Collision Sparks Surge in Container Price

Similarly, average spot rates from North Europe to the US North East Coast have fallen by 8 percent to $2,357 per FEU, with a 4 percent decrease when including other US East Coast ports.

Peter Sand, Xeneta Chief Analyst, notes that while spot rates have not seen a significant change, shippers with cargo destined for Baltimore are experiencing disruptions, with containers being redirected to ports like New York/New Jersey. This incident adds to the challenges already faced by supply chains, including diversions in the Red Sea region and drought in the Panama Canal.

The Port of Baltimore plans to reopen navigation channels by the end of April and May, restoring port access to regular capacity. However, concerns linger regarding potential labor strikes on the East Coast, with the International Longshoremen’s Association contract set to expire in September. Sand warns that failure to reach an agreement could lead to widespread disruption at US East Coast ports, potentially driving up rates for ocean freight container services and prompting some shippers to explore alternative import routes.

As recovery efforts continue, the shipping industry braces for potential labor disruptions while navigating the aftermath of the Baltimore bridge collapse.

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Virginia and Baltimore Companies Unite to Solve Shipping Challenges Post-Bridge Collapse

Following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, companies from Virginia and Baltimore have banded together to navigate the ensuing shipping challenges creatively. As debris clearance progresses, the supply chain faces hurdles, but collaborative efforts are paving the way forward.

Jason Pruitt, owner of Commercial Transportation Intermodal in Baltimore, acknowledges the ongoing complexities despite inventive solutions emerging. Temporary channels have been opened to mitigate the bottleneck, but rerouting cargo through Norfolk, Philadelphia, and New York presents its own set of challenges, particularly with drivers facing driving limit constraints.

Kacy Payne of Evans Delivery Company’s Land Transportation branch introduced the “Drop Lot” solution, easing the burden on Baltimore drivers. By allowing them to drop containers at a designated lot north of Richmond, Norfolk drivers can then take over for delivery to the Port of Virginia, and vice versa for cargo destined for Baltimore. This strategy helps drivers avoid exceeding their daily driving limits, enabling them to make two moves a day within allocated hours.

Ensuring proper insurance coverage during cargo transfers poses a significant hurdle, especially for smaller trucking companies. Larger companies like Evans Intermodal Transportation leverage their extensive network and standardized processes to streamline insurance transfers, offering support to smaller players.

To enhance efficiency and transparency, artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be deployed to track cargo possession throughout the supply chain. Kevin Speers of Splice, a Virginia Beach-based IT company, explains how AI will enable real-time tracking of truck and container information, facilitating seamless transfers.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller emphasizes Virginia’s commitment to assisting the Baltimore shipping community, endorsing innovative solutions like the Drop Lot.

As collaborative efforts between Virginia and Baltimore intensify, the shipping industry is adapting to the challenges posed by the bridge collapse, showcasing resilience and innovation in overcoming logistical hurdles.

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“Maryland Governor: Baltimore Port to Resume Full Function by May’s End”

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has announced an ambitious plan to restore full functionality to Baltimore’s key shipping lane by the end of May. The announcement comes in the wake of a devastating incident in late March when a massive container ship collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing extensive damage and claiming the lives of six construction workers.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Governor Moore affirmed the commitment to the accelerated timeline, emphasizing the round-the-clock efforts underway to meet the target. Despite the challenges posed by the scale of the damage, Moore described the proposed timeline as “realistic” and assured that every effort would be made to ensure its achievement.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working towards reopening the channel leading to the Port of Baltimore by the specified deadline, aligning with Governor Moore’s determination to expedite the recovery process.

In response to the tragedy, President Joe Biden has pledged federal support for the reconstruction efforts, reaffirming his commitment to assisting Maryland and Baltimore in overcoming the aftermath of the disaster. During a recent visit to the site of the bridge collapse, President Biden reiterated the government’s responsibility to hold those accountable for the incident while providing aid for the restoration and maintenance of the region’s vital business and commerce activities.

Governor Moore expressed solidarity with the affected families and communities, vowing to prioritize their needs throughout the recovery process. With a united effort from both state and federal authorities, plans are underway to not only reopen the shipping channel but also to commence the rebuilding of the bridge, symbolizing resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

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Beware of Overhyping the Impact of Baltimore’s Bridge Collapse on Supply Chains

The collapse of the Baltimore bridge is a tragedy. But the impact on supply chains at a global or even North American level won’t be huge – and overhyping it could risk losing public trust and fanning the flames of inflation. Let’s avoid crying wolf.

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s comment last week was a bit much: “This will be a major and protracted impact to supply chains.” I doubt it.  

The collapse was shocking and the deaths of six construction workers a tragedy. Plus, the people of Baltimore will remember it with sadness forever. But the impact on supply chains at a global or even North American level won’t be huge.

What happened

The exact failure of the container ship Dali is still unknown, but video images show a loaded vessel losing its lights, and presumably power, briefly gushing black smoke from its funnels, getting its lights back, and then hitting the main bridge support. The bridge collapsed onto the bow of the ship in less than ten seconds.

What it means for supply chain: ports

The Port of Baltimore is closed, with 40+ vessels stuck inside the fallen bridge, and all inbound vessels being rerouted. It is not known how long clearing the passage will take. 

In terms of volume, Baltimore is not a vital US port. It ranks seventeenth in total tonnage, tenth in dry bulk tonnage, and fifteenth in TEU volume. Alternative east coast ports include New York, Savannah, and Virginia, all of which are larger.

Baltimore is, however, a key port for roll-on/roll-off shipments, including cars, trucks, and farm equipment. This will create problems for manufacturers, like Deere and Caterpillar, moving product overseas. These are finished goods, though, which means ripple effects seen in Europe when parts held up by Red Sea attacks forced some stoppages at Tesla and Volvo assembly plants won’t be an issue this time. Also, auto dealerships in the eastern US may wait longer for imported vehicles to arrive, but again, these are finished goods en route to lots full of inventory.

From this perspective, the impact will be minor compared to the post-Covid crisis that put supply chains on our collective radar.

What it means for supply chain: road

The accident also knocks out a major interstate highway for years, if not forever. That sounds terrible, but the bridge only carries 11 million vehicles per year compared to parallel north-south harbor tunnel routes, which, combined, carry almost 72 million vehicles each year. It is true that hazmat transport is prohibited in these tunnels, but the western loop of the Baltimore beltway is an option, adding about 15 miles to the Patapsco River crossing. Again, the impact on supply chains should be relatively minor.

Read also: Emergency Shipping Route Opens Following Baltimore Bridge Collapse

What it means for supply chain: infrastructure

As for the argument that our infrastructure is “crumbling” and supply chains are therefore “fragile,” the Key Bridge collapse is more symbolic than symptomatic. It was inspected in 2023, passing over a dozen specific metrics of structural integrity tests according to the US DOT’s National Bridge Elements Health Index. But it should be no surprise to anyone who saw the footage that the bridge couldn’t handle a direct hit from a container ship – our supply chain infrastructure does need more investment, especially our outdated seaports, but the collapse of this bridge is not proof of that idea. 

The good news: resilience and vigilance are working

Celebrated, but disproportionately to the initial hysteria about “snarled supply chains,” was the fact that the ship signaled distress and, within minutes, police had stopped traffic in both directions. Plus, technology-heavy logistics firms like project44 and Flexport, which track and help manage global shipping for big companies, are already rerouting shipments that were headed to Baltimore. 

Supply chain managers are currently handling problems in more important transportation choke points, including the Suez Canal and Panama Canal. More worrying still is the threat of a strike at all US East Coast ports. 

Transportation and logistics leaders have significantly improved resilience since the Covid crisis, meaning that most are already well into contingency plans in response to thisdisruption.

The bad news: news

Buttigieg isn’t crazy to warn of supply chain impacts arising from the Baltimore bridge tragedy, and televised news clearly can’t resist featuring the story. But the urge to overhype the supply chain angle risks losing public trust and fanning the flames of inflation.

Let’s not cry wolf.

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Regulatory Confusion Surrounding Tugboats and the Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse

It has been just over one week since the disastrous Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Investigators are making progress along multiple fronts, and the role, or lack thereof, of tugboats is front and center. 

According to tracking data from, the Dali cargo ship was unaccompanied when it crashed into the Key Bridge on the morning of March 26. Tugboats operated by McAllister Towing and Transportation aided the Dali out of the dock for roughly 30 minutes before leaving the vessel at 1:09 a.m. At roughly 1:25 a.m., the ship began to veer right, departing the main channel and striking the bridge four minutes and 23 seconds later. 

It is common for tugboats to accompany vessels the size of the Dali out of the ship’s berth and then disengage once they reach the channel. Tugboat regulations vary, and ship owners pay for their services. In the case of the Key Bridge, tugboats peeling off before the vessel reaches the bridge are common. But the question with the Dali remains – had the tugboats escorted the ship to the bridge, what would the likelihood of a collision have been?

The Patapsco River is a vital national trade artery. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is tasked with protecting the US transportation systems sector from risks and threats. While CISA designates the Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security as transportation co-sector risk management agencies, the issue of tugboat regulation and where responsibility lies remains unclear. 

The US Coast Guard is another entity responsible for risks and threats, as is the Joint Information Center (JIC), an investigative arm involving the US Customs and Border Patrol and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees. Yet, to date, CISA, the US Coast Guard, and the JIC have yet to publically accept regulatory responsibility as it relates to tugboat protocol. 

The Coast Guard can require tugboat escorts for certain vessels if they are deemed hazardous to navigation. The same applies in the event of precarious weather conditions. However, there appears to be an accountability gap where regulatory ownership is unclear.

The economic fallout from the collision is daunting. The Port of Baltimore generates roughly $3.3 billion a year, and 31,000 vehicles use the bridge daily. Had the tugboats been purposely called off, the captain’s log should reflect that.