Navy Salvage Team Leading Drive to Open Fort McHenry Channel After Key Bridge Collapse

March 28, 2024 11:02 AM
NTSB investigators on the cargo vessel Dali, which struck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024. NTSB Photo

The Navy is leading salvage efforts to clear and re-open the channel leading to the Port of Baltimore following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, service officials told USNI News on Thursday.

Naval Sea Systems Command supervisor of salvage and diving is supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Unified Command, led by the Coast Guard, reads a statement provided to USNI News. The Coast Guard and its multiple Maryland and federal partners established the Unified Command Wednesday after cargo ship MV Dali, struck Baltimore’s Key Bridge Tuesday morning, causing the bridge to collapse. Six construction workers who were on the bridge died.

The Navy’s supervisor of salvage and diving will mobilize a 1,000-ton lift capacity derrick barge, a 400-ton lift capacity revolving crane barge and a 160-ton revolving crane, in addition to necessary support vehicles, to help remove the concrete and steel parts of the bridge that are currently in the Patapsco River and on top of Dali.

It will likely take up to a month before the Port of Baltimore is open, USNI News previously reported.

The Navy also provided an MH-60S Knight Hawk from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and a small boat from Navy Reserve Center Baltimore during the search and rescue efforts after the bridge collapsed, according to the Navy statement.

From Port to Collapse in 22 Minutes

Dali, a Singaporean-flagged ship, entered the Fort McHenry Channel at 1:07 a.m. Tuesday morning, National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-in-Charge Marcel Muise told reporters Wednesday evening.

By 1:24 a.m., the ship was underway, sailing at about 8 knots. Within a minute, several alarms start going off, cutting of the ship’s video voyage data recorder while the audio remains, Muise said.

At 1:26 a.m., the ship’s pilot makes a call for tugs in the area to assist, he said. Maryland Transportation Authority data also shows that the pilot’s association called about the ship’s blackout.

A minute later, the pilot commanded the ship to drop the port anchor. The ship also puts out a radio call about its power outage and the likelihood of striking the bridge.

By 1:29, the ship is traveling at 7 knots and strikes the Key Bridge, Muise said.

A more detailed transcript, including all the communication aboard Dali will be created by the NTSB as part of the investigation, Muise added.

There is no specific timeline on when Dali will be removed from the channel, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said during the press conference. The vessel cannot currently move.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, Homendy said.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox