Collapse of Baltimore Bridge Hits a Milestone

Container ship Dali is refloated, escorted by tugboats back to Baltimore for repairs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2024 10:39 AM CDT
Doomed Container Ship Heads Back to Baltimore
Crews work to refloat the Dali in preparation to move the cargo ship at high tide in Baltimore on Monday.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The recovery from the deadly Baltimore bridge collapse reached a significant milestone this week as the ill-fated container ship Dali was slowly escorted back to port, its damaged bow still covered with smashed shipping containers, fallen steel trusses, and mangled concrete. The AP reports that the vessel, refloated at high tide on Monday morning, slowly backed away from the site of the March 26 disaster, guided by several tugboats. The extensive damage to its bow included a massive, gaping hole above the waterline. Removing the hulking ship opened a new void in Baltimore's skyline, which lost an iconic landmark and a symbol of the city's proud maritime history. The altered waterscape also highlighted the progress made on the cleanup effort; crews have already cleared thousands of tons of mangled steel that once were visible jutting up from the water.

Officials said the Dali would move at about 1mph on the roughly 2.5-mile trip back to port, a fraction of the speed it was traveling when it lost power and brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge. It will spend several weeks getting temporary repairs at the same marine terminal it occupied before beginning its ill-fated voyage, then move to a shipyard for more substantial repairs. To refloat the Dali, crews released anchors and pumped out more than 1 million gallons of water that had kept the ship grounded and stable during the complicated cleanup effort. Crews conducted a controlled demolition on May 13 to break down the largest remaining span of the collapsed bridge, which was draped across the Dali's bow. Dive teams then confirmed the path was clear.

The ship's crew members haven't been allowed to leave the vessel. Officials said they've been busy maintaining the ship and assisting investigators and will be able to disembark once the Dali is docked. Officials plan to reopen the port's 50-foot-deep draft channel by the end of May. Until then, crews have established a temporary channel that's slightly shallower.

(More Baltimore bridge collapse stories.)

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