Ship behind Baltimore bridge collapse towed, crew still onboard

The ship that caused the deadly Baltimore Bridge collapse has finally been removed and towed to port, but the 21 crew members who have been stranded for 55 days have still not been able to leave the ship.

The giant Dali freighter was refloated and moved away from the remains of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Monday morning as part of a massive team effort.

On March 26, the bridge collapsed after a ship struck one of its supports, killing six construction workers who had been filling holes in the bridge overnight.

The Dali’s 21 crew members, all from India, except one man from Sri Lanka, the cargo ship’s destination, have been unable to leave the ship since accidents, including last week’s bridge collapse.

The FBI is investigating the crash. Getty Images
The Dali cargo ship was removed from the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Monday. Unknown via Storyful

U.S. maritime regulations require ships to maintain a minimum number of personnel at all times, no matter what condition they are in, and to maintain a minimum number of personnel at all times when machinery on board is in operation, so fires, etc. There must be a crew available to respond if a problem arises.

It is also believed that the sailors’ US visas expired while they were in port. According to the Baltimore Sun.

“At some point, we will work with the authorities to see if we can give them shore leave. Our ultimate goal is to get the crew off the ship and back to their families. Darrell Wilson, a spokesman for Synergy Marine Group, which manages the ship, told the paper.

He also added that it was “a relief for all of us” that Dali’s ship had finally arrived in port.

In April, the FBI seized the cellphones of all the crew members as part of the investigation, but none have been returned. Wilson said the crew members were given replacement phones, but they cannot access their original data.

Officials said the crew had been busy maintaining the ship and assisting investigators in trying to determine how the crash happened over the past eight weeks.

On Monday, the ship was guided away from the accident site by several tugboats, which showed extensive damage to its bow.

The bridge’s removal comes after explosives were used on May 13 to blow up the largest remaining section of the collapsed bridge, an important Baltimore roadway, with the unlucky boat trapped underneath for months. It was done after that.

The ship’s 21 crew members have not been allowed to leave the country for eight weeks since the collapse. Getty Images

Officials said the giant ship, still carrying cargo, would be traveling at about 1 mph during the 4.5-mile trip back to port.

Temporary repairs are expected to take several weeks before moving to a shipyard for more extensive repairs.

To refloat the ship, the crew removed the anchor and pumped out more than 1 million gallons of water that had grounded the ship for weeks after the collision, and cleanup crews began work at the complex site. A diving team was then dispatched to ensure a clear route for removing the ship.

The bridge crash occurred after the cargo ship suffered two power outages about 10 hours before leaving the Port of Baltimore bound for Sri Lanka, federal investigators said last week.

The first power outage occurred after a crew member accidentally closed an exhaust damper during maintenance, causing one of the ship’s diesel engines to shut down, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

Then, while leaving Baltimore in the early morning hours of March 26, another power outage caused the ship to lose steering and propulsion, causing it to collide with one of the bridge supports and collapse.

The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the circumstances that led to the crash.

Officials plan to reopen the port’s 50-foot-deep draft channel by the end of May, but until then crews are installing a slightly shallower temporary channel.

Comes with post wire.