‘Mass-casualty incident’ as Maersk-operated ship destroys Baltimore bridge

A Maersk-operated container ship has caused a catastrophic collapse of a key bridge in the US port of Baltimore, with as many as 20 people missing.

Video footage posted online shows the ship had some mechanical issues prior to hitting the bridge. Lights on the vessel can be seen flickering, then going out as the vessel veered off course and hit the bridge’s support pillar and causing the whole structure to collapse into the Patapsco River.

Two people had been removed from the river and efforts were focused on finding “upwards of seven individuals”, with the local fire department calling the incident a “mass-casualty event”, as reported in the Financial Times.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said there are “no indications” the collision of a container ship that resulted in a major bridge collapse in Baltimore was an intentional act.

The 9,962-TEU Dali (built 2015) was involved in an “incident” at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium in 2016, port authorities confirmed to CNN.

According to the CNN, the container ship had been inspected 27 times since its building in 2015, and had two “deficiencies” since then, according to records from the Electronic Quality Shipping Information System (Equasis). 

The last inspection the Dali had was on September 9, 2023, when it was inspected by the United States Coast Guard in New York, Equasis reports. No deficiencies were noted from that inspection, according to the database, as reported by the CNN.

Maersk commented: “We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected,” adding that the ship was operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group and was carrying Maersk customers’ cargo. “No Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel,” the company said.

Vespucci Maritime’s CEO, Lars Jensen, said “The bridge collapse will mean that for the time being it will not be possible to get to the container terminals – or a range of the other port terminals – in Baltimore. In 2023 the terminals handled 1.1 million TEU. This is some 21,000 TEU per week which now has to be routed through other ports in the region. Additionally this means the cargo already gated into the Baltimore terminals would have to either wait an unknown period for the sealane to reopen, or be gated back out and shifted to a different port.”

This is the third incident since the start of the year of a large ship seemingly losing control of its steering. On 16 March, the 2015-built 14,000 TEU YM Witness crashed into the quay while attempting to berth at Turkey’s Evyapport. On 22 February, an empty barge collided with a bridge in southern China, which led to its partial collapse and vehicles plunging into the water.

Author: Viki Keckarovska

Source: Ti Insights

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