Ship That Knocked Down Baltimore Bridge Had Previous Accident, Past Hardware Issue

(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
Font Size:

The container ship that knocked down Maryland’s Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday was once involved in another accident and a hardware issue related to its propulsion was once flagged up, according to reports and statements.

The Dali allided with the berth at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium back in Jul. 2016 during unmooring just before sailing, according to the maritime tracker VesselFinder. Crew error reportedly was to blame for the allision, which occurred in fair weather. The ship remained afloat but its stern and transom, near its waterline, sustained noticeable damage. The ship was detained for repair. The stone wall of the port’s quay was also noticeably affected, according to the tracker’s report.

The Greek company Oceanbulk Maritime owns the South Korean-made, Maersk-chartered ship, VesselFinder revealed.

Chilean authorities during a port inspection in June 2023 briefly detained the Dali owing to a “‘deficiency’ for ‘unreadable’ pressure gauges relating to ‘propulsion and auxiliary machinery’,” WRAL-TV reported.

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore confirmed that there was “a faulty monitor gauge for fuel pressure” during a “foreign port state inspection” in Jun. 2023. The fault “was rectified before the vessel departed the port,” the MPA said. It added that the ship, sailing under Singapore’s flag since Oct. 2016, was also inspected in Sep. 2023.

Propulsion resurfaced in the MPA’s account of the Baltimore, Maryland accident. (RELATED:
‘The Whole Bridge Just Fell Down!’: Shocking Dispatch Audio Released After Baltimore Bridge Collapse)

“The ship management company, Synergy Marine Pte Ltd, reported to MPA that just prior to the incident, the vessel, Dali had experienced momentary loss of propulsion,” the MPA said in the wake of the Key Bridge collapse. “As a result, it was unable to maintain the desired heading and collided with the Francis Scott Key bridge.”

Synergy Marine Pte Ltd is headquartered in Singapore and has an office in the U.S. and other countries. The company extended “our deepest sympathies to the families of the two people lost” and sent an emergency response team to Baltimore, according to a statement.

The Dali‘s “required classification society and statutory certificates covering the structural integrity of the vessel and functionality of the vessel’s equipment, were valid at the time of the [Key Bridge] incident,” the MPA added, also stating that it was investigating any possible infringement of shipping regulations.

All 22 crew members survived the accident, according to the MPA. One of them, however, was injured, Synergy Marine said. The crew member received treatment and returned to the ship Wednesday, while the search for the missing — now presumed dead — bridge workers continued. A mental health team has been providing “trauma counseling for crew members feeling distressed,” Synergy Marine added.

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command, which includes the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is working to contain further water pollution from the ship’s containers, according to a statement.

The approximately 984-foot (300-meter) long Dali, with a gross tonnage of 95,128 tonnes, was heading to Colombo, Sri Lanka, where it was due to arrive Apr. 22, before the Key Bridge accident, according to VesselFinder.