Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapses after containership strike


Containership strikes Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore in Maryland, causing it to collapse.

Francis Scott Key Bridge

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland collapsed due to a ship strike early Tuesday morning at around 01.30h local time (EST), the Maryland Transporation Authority confirmed on X.

The incident has been described as a ‘mass casualty’ with rescue services reportedly searching for seven people in the river after multiple vehicles fell into the water, according to the Associated Press.

However, it is feared that maintenance workers were on the bridge when it plunged into the water. The Coast Guard and other agencies have mobilised rescue boats.

Specifically, volunteer firefighters from Harford County MD Fire & EMS, the Volunteer Swift Water Team, and the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company are assisting the Unified Command at the Baltimore Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has declared a state of emergency in Maryland.

“My office is in close communication with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, and the Baltimore Fire Department as emergency personnel are on the scene following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge,” Moore said.

“I have declared a State of Emergency here in Maryland and we are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration.”

The ship that is believed to have struck the bridge is a Singapore-flagged container ship, the Dali, as informed by Reuters. The ship is owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and managed by Synergy Marine Group.

Reuters further reported, citing a statement from Synergy Marine, that all crew members and the two pilots have been accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.

Data from VesselsValue indicates that Dali is a 9,962 TEU containership, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in 2015. The containership was en route from Baltimore to Colombo, its estimated time of arrival being April 22, 2024.

As explained by Lars Jensen, a container shipping analyst, Dali is operated by Maersk on the 2M service between Asia and USEC.

“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,” Jansen said in a post.

As explained, numerous merchant vessels find themselves stranded within the confines of the port of Baltimore due to the bridge collapse. These include bulk carriers such as JY River, Klara Oldendorff, and Phatra Naree, along with the vehicle carrier Carmen, in addition to various general cargo and naval vessels.

Several ships were forced to alter their courses due to the accident, and ships destined for Baltimore would probably have to arrange for alternative plans.

Vessel traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore has been suspended until further notice, the port said.

“This does not mean that the Port of Baltimore is shut down. We are still processing trucks inside of our terminals,” the port authority pointed out.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, spanning 1.6 miles over the Patapsco River into the Port of Baltimore, was established in 1977 under the jurisdiction of the Maryland Transport Authority.

It is the outermost bridge in the approach to the Port of Baltimore and the most important terminals, including SeaGirt Container Terminal, Dundalk Terminal and the ro-ro/car terminal are upstream of it. The port will likely be shut for many months. Initial estimates indicate that damages could run into billions of dollars.