Dali freed from bridge span with a bang


Precision explosive charges freed the Dali container ship on Monday, dismantling the section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge that had collapsed across its bow.

A 4,000-tonne piece of the Key Bridge collapse wreckage was successfully removed from the M/V Dali container ship on Monday using explosives, marking a critical milestone in the recovery process.

The operation, occurring nearly seven weeks post the disaster that claimed the lives of six construction workers, left the Port of Baltimore crippled and access to the Beltway cut off.

The Key Bridge Response Unified Command employed so-called precision cuts (small charges), to extract the large section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge wreckage from the vessel. The operation took place at around 5:00 pm local time.

These small charges, classified as standard controlled demolition tools, strategically split the large truss section at specific points, creating multiple smaller segments. This approach enables salvors to utilise cranes and barges already stationed on-site to lift and remove these bridge sections, ultimately facilitating the extraction of the M/V Dali from the channel.

The operation was delayed twice due to inadequate weather conditions.

Baltimore-based United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Port of Baltimore confirmed the operation on their social media channels. An official press release from Unified Command detailing the effectiveness of the operation is expected shortly.

Even though the salvors said the operation would resemble a fireworks display in terms of noise levels, video footage has proven to be nothing short of spectacular.

During the explosion, observers witnessed the bridge breaking into smaller sections, and tumbling into the river below. Meanwhile, 21 crew members remained onboard to ensure the safety and operational integrity of the ship.

Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell confirmed that the blasts went “according to plan.”

Initial plans aim to fully reopen the permanent channel by the end of May, thereby restoring port access to its normal capacity.

Following the removal of the Dali cargo ship, the Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel will be reopened for deep draft vessels, requiring the presence of a Maryland pilot and two tug escorts. Concurrently, three other temporary channels will be available for smaller vessels.

Investigation into the cause of the accident that resulted in the collapse of the Francis Scott Bridge remains underway.

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