Planned Demolition to Salvage Containership Dali and Reopen Baltimore Port

Planned Demolition to Salvage Containership Dali and Reopen Baltimore Port

The Port of Baltimore is gearing up to resume the majority of its operations next week, after a strategic demolition set for this weekend aims to dislodge the Dali containership from the remains of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Explosive experts are setting charges along a segment of the bridge’s steel truss, weighing between eight and twelve million pounds, that has been draped over the Dali’s front since the vessel collided with a bridge pillar in the early morning of March 26.

The scheduled detonation on Saturday afternoon is designed to sever the truss section, enabling the Dali to be relocated to a nearby dock. There, workers will remove the remaining bridge wreckage and some of the ship’s nearly 4,500 containers.

Following the ship’s release, authorities plan to move the Dali within 48 hours, allowing the shipping channel to reopen for most maritime traffic as early as Monday.

“Our vessel calendar is rapidly filling up,” stated Richard Scher, a spokesperson for the port. Scher mentioned that approximately 20 ships, including containerships and vessels carrying cars, heavy machinery, and bulk commodities, are expected to visit over the next week.

The collapse of the Baltimore bridge, a vital route for tens of thousands of daily commuters, has significantly disrupted port activities and led to the deaths of six workers repairing potholes on Interstate 695 that night. José López, a 37-year-old worker from Baltimore, was the last to be recovered from the Patapsco River on Tuesday.

Federal investigators are examining whether the Dali’s crew or the companies associated with the vessel are responsible for its power failure and subsequent deviation from its course when departing the port. The National Transportation Safety Board anticipates releasing a preliminary report on its investigation around May 13.

William P. Doyle, CEO of the Dredging Contractors of America, described how the Dali created a “mountain” of mud as it headed towards the bridge. He confirmed that dredging teams would be ready over the weekend to remove any mud hindering the ship’s refloating. Post-Dali removal, dredgers will continue clearing the channel to return it to its standard width of 700 feet.

As the busiest U.S. entry point for car and heavy machinery imports, the Port of Baltimore is also a key export center for coal and paper products.

Doyle, a former director of the Baltimore port, explained that even with the channel’s current restricted width of about 350 feet, the port can accommodate roughly 75% of its usual traffic, including smaller containerships, auto carriers, and bulk vessels.

A representative for the agencies managing the channel’s reopening, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, expressed high confidence in fully restoring the channel by the end of May. This would enable larger containerships, especially those carrying imports from Asia, to resume their visits to Baltimore.

At the time of the incident, the Singapore-based Synergy Marine Group operated the Dali on behalf of the Danish shipping titan Maersk Line.

Officials noted that the Dali, owned by Grace Ocean of Singapore, is likely to remain docked in Baltimore for a few weeks for preliminary repairs before heading to another East Coast port for more extensive restoration work.

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