The removal of the Dali container will take weeks, key to the reopening of the port of Baltimore

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A Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command image of response teams removing shipping containers using a floating crane barge after the freighter Dali crashed and collapsed on the Francis Scott Key Bridge, April 7, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland.

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The process of removing shipping containers from 984-foot-long Dali has begun, but it is expected to take weeks to complete the work, tow the ship and reopen the Port of Baltimore to marine traffic after the bride collapses occurred on March 26.

Seven containers have been removed since the Unified Command began the process on Sunday to clear the canal and ultimately reopen it to container traffic, a spokesperson for the Joint Information Center Key Bridge Response 2024 told CNBC. The initial goal is remove 10 to 12 containers to create a safe work area for crews involved in missing worker recovery and debris removal efforts. The containers being removed are leaning to the port side of the Dali’s bow and pose a risk to the crews working in the area.

The Unified Command is comprised of Synergy Marine, the Dali management company, the US Coast Guard, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Transportation Authority and the Maryland State Police.

Approximately 140 containers in total are expected to be removed to lighten the Dali so the stranded ship can be refloated and moved with tugboats. It is expected to take approximately two weeks to unload all containers.

The first seven containers were on a single barge and were taken to Sparrows Point, the former site of a large industrial complex owned by Bethlehem Steel. Sparrows Point is a 3,100-acre peninsula that reaches into the Port of Baltimore. The JIC said the containers will remain at Sparrows Point until “further disposal is approved and coordinated.”

Debris removed from the Key Bridge collapse site is being reviewed by teams at Sparrows Point.

Unified Command Key Bridge Response 2024 | US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Erin Cox

According to JIC, barges that are loaded with containers have different container carrying capacities.

Logistical details of the containers being shipped are still being discussed, and JIC told CNBC that its “current intention” is to ship them to the CSX terminal.

A CSX spokesperson told CNBC that the freight rail company has expressed its willingness and desire to assist with recovery efforts in Baltimore, and said talks are ongoing, but added: “We have no significant updates to report at this time.” moment”.

CSX was the first rail in start a rail service for containers diverted as a result of the accident and closure of the Port of Baltimore.

Once the Dali is refloated and no longer listing, tugboats will move the vessel to the CSX terminal in the Port of Baltimore. It is yet to be determined how many tugboats will be needed to move the Dali, according to the JIC. “That is currently pending and being planned,” she said in an email to CNBC.

The removal of the debris and the ship is key to the reopening of the Port of Baltimore, which is the largest port for the import and export of automobiles in the country, as well as a key commercial center for clothing, household goods, materials construction and electronic products. and household appliances, and agricultural products. Last week, engineers said the goal is to restore “normal capacity” access to the 700-foot-wide, 50-foot-deep main channel and the Port of Baltimore by the end of May.

Aaron Roth, a retired Coast Guard captain and director of the Chertoff Group, previously told CNBC that there will be a telltale sign when the channel is ready to open.

“Once you see the plans to move the Dali away from the port, that’s when you know the canal is ready to open,” Roth said. “In the meantime, just as we saw with the Red Sea, the system will adjust. The economy knows better and will absorb it,” she said.

The new canal is currently open to smaller commercial vessels, including those involved in the recovery effort, which are noticeably lighter and smaller. The size of the boats allowed by the Coast Guard is 96 feet long, compared to the 984 feet long of the Dali, the ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge after losing navigational control and destroying the key piece of infrastructure.

A tugboat pushing a fuel barge was the first ship to use the alternative channel to avoid the bridge wreckage. The barge was carrying jet fuel for the Department of Defense bound first for Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base.

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