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How do you move a massive ship and broken bridge? It could keep Baltimore port closed for weeks

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image of fracis scott key bridge in baltimore collapsed after being hit by cargo ship

USA Today, March 2024

Officials were turning Wednesday toward a key salvage operation that has implications for the port of Baltimore – removal of the massive wreckage left after a cargo ship hit Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge and sent it crashing into the river. Experts say the operation will be vital to reopening the busy port and may take weeks.

Bodies of two of the six missing construction workers from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse were recovered Wednesday, Maryland authorities said at an afternoon news conference. But the recovery operation to find four other missing workers who are presumed dead was ended due to the difficulty of finding them in the wreckage, authorities said.

Maryland state police Superintendent Roland Butler Jr. said the efforts will now transition from recovery to a salvage operation. The construction workers were on break at the time of the collapse and had been sitting in their trucks to warm up when the ship smashed into the bridge.

“Because of the superstructure surrounding what we believe are the vehicles, and the amount of concrete and debris, divers are no longer able to safely navigate or operate around that,” Butler said. “We firmly believe the vehicles are encased in the superstructure and concrete that we tragically saw come down.’’

The Dali, which was carrying some 4,700 cargo containers as it departed the Baltimore port, hit one of the bridge’s support columns at about 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, causing the bridge to immediately collapse into the Patapsco River. In the coming weeks, responders will need to assess the damage to the ship and free it from the wreckage of the bridge so they can safely clear it from the scene, then remove the debris from the bridge so that shipping operations can resume, said Stephen Frailey, a partner with the West Coast-based Pacific Maritime Group that helps with marine salvage and wreck removal.

Read more at USA Today.

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