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Dali departs Baltimore for first time since bridge collapse, heads to Virginia

The container ship Dali is escorted through the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site on its way to Norfolk on Monday. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

The ship that launched multiple federal inquiries and knocked down an iconic Baltimore structure is on its way out of town.

Three months after it crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge and sent the span tumbling into the Patapsco River, the 984-foot Dali container ship began slowly sailing under its own power — assisted by four tugboats — just before 8:30 a.m. Monday to Norfolk, Virginia. After a trip of 16 to 20 hours, the Dali will tie up to unload all of its containers and receive more extensive repairs.

With a tarp covering a hole in the bow, the ship departed the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal and then turned right to follow the federal shipping channel. Marine tracking data indicated the ship was traveling at roughly 7 knots (8 mph) shortly after 9 a.m.

Traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Annapolis will be halted for roughly 15 to 30 minutes between 11 a.m. and noon, the Maryland Transportation Authority said on social media. To avoid distracting drivers, the transportation authority sometimes halts traffic on the Bay Bridge when vessels of high public interest sail underneath.

The Dali has been in Baltimore since it lost power in the early hours of March 26, colliding with a Key Bridge pier and collapsing the structure, killing six construction workers. Debris from the disaster blocked Baltimore’s shipping channel for more than two months and the bridge’s demise eliminated one of only three harbor crossings, slowing car and truck traffic in the area.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI are both investigating the calamity. Prompted by the collapse, the Coast Guard has initiated a board of inquiry to evaluate potential risks to other bridges in the U.S.

Last month, crews used explosives to cut up a piece of the Key Bridge that sat atop the Dali, then refloated the vessel. Five tugboats moved the ship to the Seagirt Marine Terminal, where some of the wreckage on its crumpled bow was removed. Some of that debris, such as crushed containers, remains on the vessel as it transits to Norfolk, however. The ship will undergo further cleanup and repairs upon its arrival.

A few people gathered at Fort Armistead Park to watch the ship’s departure, including George M. Treas III, who lives nearby. He likened the bridge collapse to “losing somebody” and said visiting the area is “like going to a graveyard.”

As Treas watched the ship slowly depart Baltimore Monday, he said: “It feels good. I feel safer now. They caused enough havoc here.”


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