Unified Command starts container removal from M/V Dali to gain bridge access

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Unified Command starts clearing the containers from M/V Dali as marine traffic through alternate channels starts to pick up.

The Unified Command has launched container removal operations aboard the M/V Dali at the Key Bridge incident site in Baltimore.

This essential step is integral to gaining access to the portion of the Key Bridge situated atop the vessel, the command said, adding that the transfer of containers would continue over the next several days, contingent upon favorable weather conditions.

“The removal of these containers is a critical step required to safely move the M/V Dali and eventually fully re-open the Fort McHenry Channel,” as explained by the Unified Command.

Once cleared, it will be possible to remove the pieces of the Key Bridge that lie across the ship’s bow, taking weight off the ship and ultimately allowing for the movement of the ship.

The command did not specify where will the removed containers be processed, and WorldCargo News is awaiting more information on the matter.

Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) said it aims to fully reopen the permanent channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity.

In parallel, wreckage and debris removal continued at the site, including portions of a 156-ton piece of Span 19 that were taken to Sparrows Point, Maryland.  While marine traffic is still limited, one vessel has transited through in the last 24 hours, totalling 32 since the creation of the temporary alternate channels.

Removal of span 19/Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command photo

“The Unified Command is concurrently progressing on its main lines of effort to remove enough debris to open the channel to larger commercial traffic, refloat the M/V Dali and continue recovery efforts for missing loved ones,” said Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, federal on-scene coordinator, Unified Command.

“Every day we are working to achieve these goals safely and efficiently.”

Two temporary alternate channels for commercially essential vessels have been established: the Sollers Point Temporary Alternate Channel, on the northeast side of the main ship channel, and the Hawkins Point Temporary Alternate Channel, on the southwest side of the main ship channel.

However, the channels do not have sufficient depth to allow for the transit of large ships.

The first temporary channel has a controlling depth of 11 feet (3.3 meters), a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 95 feet, and the second has a controlling depth of 14 feet (4.2 meters), a 280-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 124 feet.

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