Baltimore bridge span removed, ship freed with precision blast

Dali, the container ship that felled the Francis Scott Key Bridge in March, was freed on Monday by precision explosive charges that dismantled the span of the Baltimore roadway that came down on the vessel.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced at a news conference that a channel 50 feet deep and 700 feet wide was expected to be available to vessels at the end of the month and will be a key piece for „fully opening vessel traffic to the port.“

The Port of Baltimore. was initially shuttered at 1:28 a.m. March 26 when the 940-foot, Singapore-flagged ship lost power and drifted into the bridge that serves as the unofficial gateway to a harbor formed where the Patapsco River meets Chesapeake Bay.

The bridge collapsed, blocking vessel traffic and killing six workers who were on the bridge.

A unified command that includes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland State Police, and other authorities, immediately began working to create new channels in the port to facilitate basic shipments.

„Over the last seven weeks, we’ve moved a total of 365 commercial vessels through the alternate channels that have been established,“ Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said Monday.

Baltimore is a top 20 U.S. port for shipping and ranks at the top or near the top for car importation.

The removal was less Las Vegas showtime and more Swiss clockwork as the charges emitted short flames and a minor puff of smoke as they released the bonds that helped the bridge carry 34,000 vehicles a day.

Image: smoke explosion charges explosive
Explosive charges are detonated to bring down sections of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the container ship Dali on Monday, May 13, 2024, in Baltimore.Mark Schiefelbein / AP

Truss structure fell away toward the water and soon the ship’s deck was unburdened by the span, video from the scene showed.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell said the blasts went „according to plan.“

The Dali’s 21-member crew remained onboard the ship during the detonation, and no injuries or problems were reported, O’Connell said.

Material was removed with the help of cranes and vessels. Moore said it would be placed atop a dolly and taken to a recycling facility.

The Dali will be refloated and removed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

Full removal of the ship and structure could take an additional two days. Officials said their timeline, which includes reopening the port to full traffic by May 31, was on track.

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