Schmidt: Baltimore’s operations to reach pre-closure levels by mid-July

News

Cargo operations at the Port of Baltimore are rebounding as the Federal Channel reopens, aiming for 97 vessel calls and pre-closure activity levels by mid-July.

Vessel transit and cargo operations are returning to normal at the Port of Baltimore following the reopening of the Federal Channel.

“Over the next month, we are expecting 97 vessel calls with operations at pre-closure levels by mid-July,” said Mark Schmidt, VP and General Manager of Ports America Chesapeake.

The Baltimore Federal Channel officially reopened for vessel traffic last week after the Unified Command cleared all wreckage from the 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep channel.

⁦⁩ ⁦⁦⁦Maryland Governor Wes Moore and the U.S. Secretary of Transport Pete Buttigieg officially announced the full reopening of the Port of Baltimore on June 12.

On the following day, the Port of Baltimore welcomed the 12,000TEU containership Ever Forever, signalling the return of large vessels to its docks.

“With our 700-foot wide, 50-foot deep channel reopened, we proudly greeted our largest container ship at Seagirt Terminal since the bridge collapse! The Ever Forever, boasting a capacity close to 13,000 20-foot containers, symbolises the resurgence of major shipping operations in Baltimore,” the port said.

Deep draft vessels still require a Maryland State Pilot and one escort tug. The temporary alternate channels remain open and available for use until approximately June 30th, when all on-water salvage and survey operations related to the Key Bridge response are expected to conclude.

The reopening of the channel follows its closure on March 26, when the M/V Dali containership struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing the bridge to collapse.

The containership and the debris from the collapse blocked the channel, necessitating its closure for safety and cleanup efforts.

Key Bridge Response

Since the bridge collapse, efforts have focused on clearing wreckage and moving the M/V Dali from the channel. On May 20, the M/V Dali was safely relocated, and by May 21, the Limited Access Channel was widened to 400 feet, allowing pre-collapse, deep-draft commercial vessels to transit. A final survey conducted on June 10 confirmed the riverbed’s safety for transit, with ongoing efforts to remove steel at and below the 50-foot mud-line to facilitate future dredging operations.

“We are proud of the unified efforts that fully reopened the Federal Channel to port operations,” said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, commanding general of USACE. “The partnerships that endured through this response made this pivotal mission successful.”

The operation involved removing about 50,000 tons of bridge wreckage from the Patapsco River.  The wreckage is being transported to Sparrows Point for further processing.

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