First Vessel Utilizes Alternate Channel to Navigate Around Wreckage at Baltimore Bridge Collapse Site

First vessel uses alternate channel to bypass wreckage at the Baltimore bridge collapse site

A second temporary channel was opened on Tuesday, providing a limited route for marine traffic to bypass the wreckage of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, which had obstructed the main shipping channel following its collapse a week prior.

Efforts are underway to establish a third channel aimed at accommodating larger vessels and facilitating increased commercial activity. Officials revealed plans for this development during a news conference held on Tuesday afternoon. These channels primarily serve vessels involved in the ongoing cleanup operations, along with select barges and tugs that have been stranded in the Port of Baltimore.

Late Monday, the first vessel to utilize an alternate route was a tugboat towing a fuel barge, supplying jet fuel to Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base.

Governor Wes Moore acknowledged the additional challenges posed by rough weather in recent days, complicating the salvage operation. Conditions remained hazardous for divers tasked with retrieving the bodies of four construction workers presumed trapped underwater amid the wreckage.

First Vessel Utilizes Alternate Channel to Navigate Around Wreckage at Baltimore Bridge Collapse Site
First Vessel Utilizes Alternate Channel to Navigate Around Wreckage at Baltimore Bridge Collapse Site (Credits: The Columbian)

Speaking at a news conference, Governor Moore emphasized the priority of ensuring worker safety while expressing commitment to providing closure for the affected families.

Earlier in the day, Governor Moore visited one of two centers set up by the Small Business Administration to assist companies in securing loans to mitigate losses incurred due to the disruption caused by the bridge collapse.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, who joined Governor Moore in meetings with potential loan applicants, highlighted the immediate economic impact felt by truck drivers and emphasized the anticipated ripple effects, particularly on small businesses, which he described as vital to the nation’s economic growth.

Alex Del Sordo, the proprietor of a local marina and restaurant situated close to the collapse site, finds himself facing an uncertain economic future. Although he predicts a downturn in pleasure boating owing to temporary mooring limitations, he holds optimistic expectations for heightened activity once the bridge reconstruction commences.

In Annapolis, lawmakers convened a hearing to discuss a bill authorizing the use of the state’s rainy day fund to aid port employees and support small businesses affected by the closure. Efforts to expedite the passage of the bill are underway as the legislative session nears its end.

Meanwhile, salvage crews continue the arduous task of clearing steel and concrete debris from the collapse site. The complexity of the operation is compounded by challenging underwater conditions, rendering it hazardous for divers.

To facilitate the opening of the second channel, crews employed a large crane to remove the wreckage obstructing the path.

The tragic incident claimed the lives of six members of a road construction crew, with two bodies recovered thus far. Several vessels remain stranded in Baltimore’s harbor until normal shipping operations can resume.

President Joe Biden, who has pledged federal support for the recovery efforts, is scheduled to visit the collapse site on Friday.

The bridge collapse occurred when the cargo ship Dali lost power shortly after departing from Baltimore en route to Sri Lanka on March 26. The ship’s distress signal allowed authorities to halt traffic in time, but not before a roadwork crew on the bridge was tragically impacted. The Dali remains stationary, with its crew onboard.

Synergy Marine Group and Grace Ocean Private Ltd., the entities managing and owning the Dali, respectively, filed a court petition seeking to limit their legal liability under U.S. maritime law. Legal proceedings to determine responsibility and compensation are expected to unfold in a federal court in Maryland.

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