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What we know about the container ship that crashed into the Baltimore bridge

Matthew Loh   

What we know about the container ship that crashed into the Baltimore bridge
  • The ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday was the Singapore-flagged Dali.
  • The container ship had been chartered by Maersk, the Danish shipping company.

A container ship crashed into a major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, causing its collapse into the Patapsco River.

A livestream showed vehicles traveling on the Francis Scott Key Bridge just moments before the impact at 1:28 a.m. ET.

Baltimore first responders called the situation a "developing mass casualty event" and a "dire emergency," per The Associated Press.

James Wallace, chief of the Baltimore Fire Department, said in a press conference that two people had been recovered from the water.

One was uninjured, but the other was transported to a local trauma center in a "very serious condition."

Wallace said up to 20 people were thought to have fallen into the river and some six people were still missing.

Richard Worley, Baltimore's police chief, said there was "no indication" the collision was purposeful or an act of terrorism.

Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland, declared a state of emergency around 6 a.m. ET. He said his office was in close communication with Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary.

"We are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration," Moore added.

Understanding why the bridge collapsed could have implications for safety, in both the shipping and civil engineering sectors.

The container ship is the Singapore-flagged Dali, which is about 984 feet long, and 157 feet wide, per a listing on VesselFinder.

An unclassified Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency report said that the ship "lost propulsion" as it was leaving port, ABC News reported.

The crew notified officials that they had lost control and warned of a possible collision, the report said, per the outlet.

The Dali's owner is listed as Grace Ocean, a Singapore-based firm, and its manager is listed as Synergy Marine, which is also headquartered in Singapore.

Shipping news outlet TradeWinds reported that Grace Ocean confirmed the Dali was involved in the collapse, but is still determining what caused the crash.

Staff for Grace Ocean declined to comment on the collision when contacted by Business Insider.

"All crew members, including the two pilots have been accounted for and there are no reports of any injuries. There has also been no pollution," Synergy Marine said in a statement.

The company did not respond to a request for further comment from BI.


Maersk chartered the Dali, with a schedule for the ship on its website.

"We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected," the Danish shipping company said in a statement.

Maersk added: "We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy, and we will do our utmost to keep our customers informed."

Per ship tracking data, the Dali left Baltimore on its way to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, at around 1 a.m., about half an hour before the crash.

The Port of Baltimore is thought to be the largest in the US for roll-on/roll-off ships carrying trucks and trailers.

Barbara Rossi, associate professor of engineering science at the University of Oxford, told BI the force of the impact on one of the bridge's supporting structures "must have been immense" to lead to the collapse.

Dr Salvatore Mercogliano, a shipping analyst and maritime historian at Campbell University, told BI: "It appears Dali left the channel while outbound. She would have been under the control of the ship's master with a Chesapeake Bay pilot onboard to advise the master.

"The deviation out of the channel is probably due to a mechanical issue as the ship had just departed the port, but you cannot rule out human error as that was the cause of the Ever Forward in 2022 just outside of Baltimore."

He was referring to the incident two years ago when the container ship became grounded for a month in Chesapeake Bay after loading up cargo at the Port of Baltimore.

The US Coast Guard found the incident was caused by pilot error, cellphone use, and "inadequate bridge resource management."

Claudia Norrgren, from the maritime research firm Veson Nautical, told BI: "The industry bodies who are here to protect against incidents like this, such as the vessel's flag state, classification society, and regulatory bodies, will step in and conduct a formal investigation into the incident. Until then, it'll be very hard for anyone to truly know what happened on board."

This may not have been the first time the Dali hit a structure.

In 2016, maritime blogs such as Shipwreck Log and ship-tracking site VesselFinder posted videos of what appears to be the stern of the same, blue-hulled container vessel scraping against a quay in Antwerp.

A representative for the Port of Antwerp told BI the Dali did collide with a quay there eight years ago but couldn't "give any information about the cause of the accident."

The Dali is listed as being built in 2015 by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea.