CEO News ; Baltimore Bridge: Experts Speak On Reasons For Ship Crash

Baltimore Bridge: Experts Speak On Reasons For Ship Crash

© Baltimore Bridge: Experts Speak On Reasons For Ship Crash
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The reported that a container ship crashed into a major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, causing its collapse into the Patapsco River, experts are speaking on probable causes even while investigations are still on.

The cargo ship that smashed into the Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore overnight was piloted by a specialized crew trained to avoid obstacles at ports, it has emerged.

The ship, a 948-foot-long DALI operated by Singaporean company Synergy Group, collided with the 1.2-mile bridge shortly after 1:26am as it departed the Port of Baltimore.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld told a Tuesday morning press conference that it appears none of the 22 crewmembers were injured, as he revealed it was being steered by the specialist pilots.

‘Pilots move ships in and out of the Port of Baltimore,’ he said at a press conference, noting that the specialist pilots depart the ships as soon as they are in open water.

Officials were quick to rule out the catastrophe as intentional or an act of terrorism, and an early Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) report found the container ship ‘lost propulsion’ as it was leaving port.

‘The vessel notified MD Department of Transportation (MDOT) that they had lost control of the vessel and an allision with the bridge was possible,’ the report said. ‘The vessel struck the bridge causing a complete collapse.’

The Dali container ship had undergone 27 inspections since 2015, and it had been found to have two ‘deficiencies’, according to a CNN review of records from the Electronic Quality Shipping Information System (Equasis).

Notably, this included a June 2023 inspection in San Antonio, Chile, where a deficiency was found in the ‘propulsion and auxiliary machinery’ – with propulsion faults also noted in the early CISA report.

The Dali was also involved in a 2016 incident at the Port of Antwerp. A review in November of that year in Antwerp, Belgium found another ‘deficiency’ in its ‘structural conditions.’

No deficiencies were found when the vessel was last inspected on September 9, 2023 by the US Coast Guard in New York.

All activity out of the Port of Baltimore, one of the most important trade hubs in North America, has ground to a halt.

The ship had departed the Seagirt Marine Terminal at around 12:30am Tuesday, before turning southeast towards the bridge around half an hour later.

The Dali was intended to sail underneath the bridge, however it struck a support beam. Investigations into the accident are still ongoing.

Observers said that black smoke was seen emanating from the ship in the moments beforehand, suggesting the crew may have attempted to reverse its engines.

Rescue crews are continuing their efforts to save those impacted by the accident, with around seven believed to have been on the bridge at the time.

Around 20 construction workers were also working on the bridge at the time, sending them plummeting into the frigid 47-degree water.

Wiedefeld added that the construction crew were not working on anything related to the structural integrity of the bridge, and were fixing potholes at the time.

As of early Tuesday, two people had been pulled from the water. One was uninjured, and the other was rushed to hospital in ‘very serious condition.’

Professor Helen Sampson, an expert at the Seafarers International Research Centre at Cardiff University, speculated that human error may have also contributed to the accident.

Because the ship crashed at 1:30am, she told Sky News: ‘The time makes me also wonder whether there was an element of fatigue at play.

‘It’s almost always the case that we focus on human error at the individual level, it’s almost always the case that there’s a broader context which has resulted in that human error, like fatigue and the demands made on pilots or on crews.’

The early CISA report noted that the crew warned officials that they had lost control of the vessel moments before impact.

All activity out of the port has been halted. Around 30,000 people use the bridge to commute every single day, leading to mass disruption in the area.

Last year, the port handled a record amount of cargo, and it registered as the 20th biggest port in the nation by total tonnage, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The port is noted for catering to large container ships like the Dali. The 948-foot-long vessel had reportedly spent two days in the port before its departure around midnight Monday, and was on course for Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Last month, Maryland Governor Wes Moore praised the port’s handling of large cargo ships, saying it ‘continues to demonstrate Baltimore’s capabilities of handling supersized vessels.’

Around 40 ships are currently on course for the Port of Baltimore. Georgio Hatzimanolis, an analyst for ship tracker MarineTraffic, said the accident may impact supply chains.

‘We do expect there to be a ripple effect, but it’s a bit too early to say what the impact will be,’ he told the New York Times.

At a press conference early Tuesday, Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace said crews are continuing to search the Patapsco River.

‘We believe at this point we may be looking for upwards of seven individuals,’ Wallace said.

‘We are still very much in an active search and rescue posture at this point, and we will continue to be for some time.’

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said there is concern over the vulnerability of the bridge, but focus remains on those stranded in the water.

‘Right now, everyone in this world’s focus should be about these souls and those families who are wondering if these people are going to walk back in the door after they walked out to work last night,’ he said.

The temperatures in the water were around 48 degrees Fahrenheit, a dangerously cold temperature for those exposed to it.

The National Weather Service warns that the temperature of the water would be dangerous for those ‘who aren’t prepared for what the sudden exposure can do to your body and brain.’

The likely survival time for exposure to this temperature is at most around three hours, according to the University of Minnesota.

Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency Tuesday morning following the catastrophic collision.

At a follow-up press conference, he maintained that there is ‘no credible evidence’ to suggest the crash was the result of a terrorist attack.

‘The preliminary evidence points to an accident,’ he said.

Moore stressed that the collapse doesn’t appear to be caused by any kind of structural issues, and the bridge was fully up to code.

‘(Our) exclusive focus is on saving lives, search and rescue,’ he said.


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