Cargo Ship Underwent ‘Routine Maintenance’ Before Baltimore Bridge Collision

The cargo ship that lost power and crashed into a bridge in Baltimore had recently undergone “routine engine maintenance” while in port, the U.S. Coast Guard revealed Wednesday. The devastating collision claimed the lives of at least two workers, whose bodies were recovered by divers near the collapsed bridge section.

Authorities have exhausted search efforts and presume the remaining four missing workers also perished when the Francis Scott Key Bridge came crashing down into the water. The victims were part of a construction crew from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador working on pothole repairs on the bridge.

Maryland State Police Col. Roland L. Butler Jr. identified the two recovered bodies as 35-year-old Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes from Mexico and 26-year-old Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera from Guatemala. Gov. Wes Moore addressed the victims’ families in Spanish, saying “we are with you, now and always.”

With search operations concluded, efforts will now focus on clearing the debris field once divers can safely access the area where authorities believe the other vehicles containing victims are encased in collapsed bridge materials.

A Detailed Timeline

The cargo ship Dali left port at 12:39 a.m. Tuesday and entered the channel without issue. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation:

  • Around 1:25 a.m., numerous alarms began sounding on the ship’s bridge
  • Around 1:26 a.m., steering commands and calls for tugboat assistance were made
  • Just after 1:27 a.m., the pilot commanded dropping anchor and gave further steering orders
  • Around 1:29 a.m., when traveling about 8 mph, the ship struck the bridge

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath stated they were informed the ship would undergo maintenance, but were “not informed of any problems with the vessel” prior to the catastrophic bridge strike.

The NTSB has boarded the Dali to gather evidence and interview the 23 crew members, including two pilots, who were aboard during the incident. The investigation into the cause of the power loss and collision could take 12-24 months.

The disaster has severed a critical transportation artery looping around Baltimore and closed the city’s vital shipping port. Residents and businesses now face prolonged impacts from the shipping delays and loss of a bridge traversed by 30,000 vehicles daily.