Cargo ship uses anchor in desperate attempt to avoid collision with Baltimore Bridge

By | March 27, 2024

Image: Baltimore City Fire Department

Image: Baltimore City Fire Department

While the investigation into the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse is just beginning, it appears the captain of the Dali freighter did everything he could to avoid a catastrophe, including dropping the port anchor to drag across the bottom of the bay to prevent the disaster. to slow the ship’s speed.

The captain also turned the ship’s rudder hard to the left as the Dali, which was traveling at eight knots (common in the bay) when it lost power, drifted hard to the right towards the bridge pylons. Clay Diamond, the executive director of the American Pilots’ Association, told the Washington Post that it’s not unusual for a ship of this size to lose engine power (which… yep), but a total blackout is less common.

“It’s not unheard of for a pilot to experience a motorcycle accident. It’s not that common to experience such a complete blackout,” he said. “This is a complicated device, so there could be all kinds of causes.”

Foreign-flagged ships must have pilots on board to escort them in and out of U.S. ports. Pilots have detailed knowledge of local shipping channels and complete an internship before becoming fully qualified. Diamond said they are not taking direct command of the ship, but are working with the crew to get it out to sea safely.

However, given the ship’s size, speed and proximity to the bridge when it lost power, these actions had little effect on slowing the ship, experts told NBC:

“An engine blowing out three miles away in the ocean is an aggravation and an economic problem because you lose time,” said Henry Lipian, a retired Coast Guard lieutenant and founder of the accident reconstruction company Introtech. “In a narrow canal at night, with a bridge in front of you, I couldn’t think of a worse situation to deal with.”

A ship could drop anchor in an attempt to avoid a collision, but given the Dali’s size, speed and distance from the bridge, such a move most likely would not have helped, said Morgan McManus, an instructor at SUNY Maritime College in New York. who has worked on cargo ships and tankers.

“At 8 knots you need a few thousand meters to do it,” McManus said.

Meanwhile, search and rescue efforts at the site of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore turned to recovery efforts Tuesday evening as rescuers lost hope of finding the six still-missing road workers.

The Coast Guard announced at 7:30 PM on Tuesday evening that it was too dangerous for divers to continue searching for the missing roadworks crew members. Murky water conditions, changing tides and sharp objects in the water hampered efforts, which resumed at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. The six people still missing were part of a construction crew that was repairing holes in the bridge. These are the victims, according to CNN:

Father of three Miguel Luna, who is from El Salvador but has lived in Maryland for 19 years, was among those missing, according to CASA, a nonprofit that provides services to working-class and immigrant families. A Honduran father of two, Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, has also been missing since the bridge collapse, the man’s brother told CNN. He said his brother has lived in the U.S. for 18 years and has an 18-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Two Guatemalans are among the missing, the country’s foreign ministry said. The missing include a 26-year-old from San Luis, Peten, and a 35-year-old from Camotan, Chiquimula. The ministry did not name the men. The victims also included Mexican nationals, but it was unclear how many, a Mexican embassy official told reporters near the bridge site.

“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” Maryland Governor Wes Moore said Tuesday evening after rescue efforts ended. “We will continue to work with leaders at the local, state and federal levels to ensure we can provide all those affected with the closure they deserve.”

The men were employed by local construction company Brawner Builders. Company executive vice president Jeffrey Pritzker told the Associated Press that crews were repairing holes in the center of the bridge when the collision occurred:

“This was so completely unforeseen,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know what else to say.”

“We take so much pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flags,” he added. “But we never anticipated that the bridge would collapse.”

First responders rescued two road crew members shortly after the collapse. One of them was not injured and the other was taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center and later released, CBS said.

The 1,000-foot freighter Dali crashed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday. The massive ship took out one of only two support masts, sending the bridge into the cold Baltimore Bay below. According to current reports, the ship lost power completely as it navigated out of the bay. The crew managed to send out a distress signal that allowed officials to close the bridge to all through traffic, likely saving many lives. At the time of writing, the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge is being treated as a freak accident. The National Transportation Safety Board is already on site and both President Joesph Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg plan to visit the site in the coming days.

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