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Report: Dali Will Move to Baltimore Berth Next Week for Investigators

Dali wreckage removal
Picture from May 7 shows the starboard bow is cleared as they set the charges to remove the bridge structure from the port side (USCG photo)

Published May 10, 2024 2:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Update: The Unified Command reports the controlled demolition has been delayed till Sunday late afternoon due to weather concerns.  After that they plan an inspection of the Dali and possibly dredging before the vessel can be removed to the Baltimore berth.

 

The authorities leading the recovery operation in Baltimore have declined comments on the timeline for the next steps including the removal of the Dali only saying that systematic preparations were underway and that they remain on target to open the full channel by the end of the month. The Baltimore Sun newspaper however is reporting that it obtained an email showing the vessel will be moved to the dock on or about Tuesday, May 14, and handed over to investigators.

The Unified Command alerted the media of a tentative plan subject to weather and other conditions for the controlled demolition of the section of the bridge on the bow of the Dali. It is scheduled for Saturday afternoon with teams then prepared to use the giant claws to remove the sections which should fall into the water around the ship. The goal has been to lighten the forward section of the Dali to refloat the vessel. 

According to the Baltimore Sun, the vessel will be moved to the Seagirt Marine Terminal in the effort to reopen the channel. William Doyle, chief executive of the Dredging Contractors of America reports dredgers will be standing by in case they need to remove mud to free the Dali

According to the report in the newspaper, the team from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to reboard the Dali on May 14 and 15 to continue their investigation. The NTSB has already interviewed the crew and Maryland pilot who was guiding the ship at the time of the allision and has reviewed onboard data. A preliminary report providing an updated statement of the facts is expected to be released in the coming days, possibly shortly after they reboard the vessel.

 

Charges are set (black stripes) for the controlled demolition scheduled for Saturday afternoon (USCG)

 

The Baltimore Sun reports that lawyers and investigators involved in the various lawsuits including one from the City of Baltimore have been told they can schedule visits to the ship after the NTSB. The newspaper reports there will be two groups taken aboard with the vessel available starting May 20.  They are being warned that the bow areas of the vessel may not be accessible as the recovery operation will still be underway.

It is unclear if the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) plans to return to the ship. They boarded the vessel shortly after the incident seizing information. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the week that the FBI is involved in an investigation to see if the crew violated a U.S. law from the 1830s which says a ship’s officer or crew can be charged with manslaughter if their negligence or misconduct led to the death of the six road workers who were on the bridge. The paper says the law was passed after a series of steamboat accidents but was invoked as recently as the 2019 dive boat Conception case where a fire killed 34 people off the coast of California.

The U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has also scheduled a hearing for May 15 to discuss the federal response to the bridge collapse. They have scheduled witnesses from the U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration and the NTSB.

With the sections of the bridge removed from the Dali and then the vessel removed from the area, Doyle says dredgers are prepared to complete the task of restoring the channel. Salvage crews will continue to remove the debris from the bridge while this week they recovered the body of the last of the six missing workers from the road crew.

The Port of Baltimore told The Wall Street Journal that it already has requests from about 20 vessels expected at the port in the week following the reopening of the channel. They reported that containerships, car carriers, and bulkers are all scheduling return visits to the port. Two cruise ships that are also scheduled to be sailing from the port are expected to switch back from temporary operations from Norfolk.