Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being hit by a cargo boat.

Newbian

Lifer
Aug 24, 2008
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https://www.baltimoresun.com/2024/03/26/key-bridge-collapses-into-patapsco/

Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning after a support column was struck by a vessel, sending cars and at least one tractor-trailer into the Patapsco River.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore City Fire Department said a major rescue operation was underway with all lanes closed and with all traffic being rerouted from the 1.6-mile steel bridge that is part of Interstate 695.

“The entire bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River,” said Kevin Cartwright, the director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department.

“We have reason to believe that there were vehicles and possibly a tractor-trailer” that went into the water, Cartwright said.

He said authorities were searching for at least seven people in the water as of 3 a.m. but the number of vehicles that may have been impacted or traveling on the bridge is unknown.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in a social media post that he was aware of the incident, and was in contact with Gov. Wes Moore and local officials. Scott said he was heading to the scene.


“Emergency personnel are on scene, and efforts are underway,” Scott said on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.

The Key Bridge, which opened in 1977, is named for the writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The bridge is one of the Baltimore harbor’s three toll crossings.

A video showing it happen:

 

Newbian

Lifer
Aug 24, 2008
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It looks like the ship info has been posted:


DALI (IMO: 9697428) is a Container Ship and is sailing under the flag of Singapore. Her length overall (LOA) is 299.92 meters and her width is 48.2 meters.
 

brycejones

Lifer
Oct 18, 2005
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At least 20 counts of murder for whoever was captaining that shipping container vessel. There is no logical reason this could or should happen. The ports have pilots who captain the vessel near ports.
Could have been an engineering casualty on the ship with steering or the power plant.

Not nearly enough info yet to start calling for murder charges.
 

Pohemi

Diamond Member
Oct 2, 2004
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I wondered after watching it if there was a malfunction of the power and/or steering, as it looked like there was some kind of electrical malfunctions going on as it approached the pylon. You can see all of the lights on the ship go off and back on several times before it collides.

If this ends up being another Exxon Valdez style captain who was drunk, he's in deep shit alright.

I hadn't seen this thread and had posted links to this in the P&N's meme thread.
 

brycejones

Lifer
Oct 18, 2005
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At least 20 counts of murder for whoever was captaining that shipping container vessel. There is no logical reason this could or should happen. The ports have pilots who captain the vessel near ports.


From the NYTimes coverage looks like they had two pilots on board at the time.

The owners of the Dali, a Singapore-flagged ship, confirmed in an emailed statement that the vessel had hit one of the pillars of the Francis Scott Key Bridge around 1:30 a.m. Eastern. All crew members, including two pilots onboard, were accounted for and there were no injuries on the ship, the statement said. The cause of the collision has yet to be determined, and the owners and the vessel's managers were cooperating with the authorities, according to the statement.
 

Hans Gruber

Platinum Member
Dec 23, 2006
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You watch the video and tell me what to make of the impact. Start at 1:25 of the video.
 
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JTsyo

Lifer
Nov 18, 2007
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From what I've seen online:
power failure on the ship seen as the most likely cause.
there was a construction crew pouring concrete on the bridge at the time of impact. No survivors found.
Bridge was one of 3 crossings in the city. The other 2 being tunnels.
Bridge debris blocking the river will close the port until cleared.
 

tweaker2

Lifer
Aug 5, 2000
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After a similar incident happened in Florida decades ago, you would think that for busier shipping channels, they would put in some pillar protecting piers.



A few things at play:

1. Attitudes/Egos - "Nah, that Florida incident could never ever happen here."

2. Money - "Why spend huge sums unnecessarily when it could never ever happen here."

3. Politics - Personal agendas by influential personalities prioritizing self-interests over real time actual needs irt those pesky expensive infrastructure maintenance and safety concerns.

Also, I wonder if that ship had hit the middle of a span or any other major part of the bridge a lot less damage would/could have occurred. It seems that ship had hit a sweet spot that resulted in a near total collapse. Structural engineers are going to have a lot of studying to do in order to mitigate the possibility of other similarly built bridges producing the same results, other than the common sense solution you provided.
 
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purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
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From what I've seen online:
power failure on the ship seen as the most likely cause.
there was a construction crew pouring concrete on the bridge at the time of impact. No survivors found.
Bridge was one of 3 crossings in the city. The other 2 being tunnels.
Bridge debris blocking the river will close the port until cleared.
I just heard on local radio that there are 2 survivors and they are looking for 7 other people. I am guessing this is from the construction crew.

1 person was completely unharmed, and 1 is in serious condition in the hospital.
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
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Ship hits bridge support. Thought that was pretty clear. Did you have something else you wanted to say?
The camera angle makes it look like the ship intentionally turned and aimed for the bridge pier. I think it was really steering around the power pole upstream of the bridge. Having the upstream power poles set wider than the bridge piers may also play a role as it may create an impression that as long as the ship clears the poles, it's good.

1711458474365.png

Edit: Another issue is that ships have to keep to starboard passing under the bridge to avoid Fort Carrol which is just downstream from the bridge.
1711458780503.png
 
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zinfamous

No Lifer
Jul 12, 2006
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Ship hits bridge support. Thought that was pretty clear. Did you have something else you wanted to say?

I think he's curious about why it looked to be steering away from that support, but then turned directly into it, or wasn't in the proper approach angle to easily avoid the pillar, as it was steering away from that power pole in front of it.

So, why did it do that? Power failure or accident/medical emergency in crew?
 

tweaker2

Lifer
Aug 5, 2000
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What was interesting to me was how an adjacent bridge span lifted in the air even though it was well away from the impact site indicating how each span was dependent on each other rather than independent from each other. The pier between the affected arches became a fulcrum point that transferred the damage to the next section by lifting and separating it from the pier it was attached to, a chain reaction that was truly catastrophic as well as tragic.
 
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Hans Gruber

Platinum Member
Dec 23, 2006
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I think a bridge with support columns in the waterway are a bad idea in deep water ports with freight traffic. A suspension bridge or a span that does not require support columns placed in the water near shipping lanes would be a much safer option.
 
Dec 10, 2005
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A few things at play:

1. Attitudes/Egos - "Nah, that Florida incident could never ever happen here."

2. Money - "Why spend huge sums unnecessarily when it could never ever happen here."

3. Politics - Personal agendas by influential personalities prioritizing self-interests over real time actual needs irt those pesky expensive infrastructure maintenance and safety concerns.

Also, I wonder if that ship had hit the middle of a span or any other major part of the bridge a lot less damage would/could have occurred. It seems that ship had hit a sweet spot that resulted in a near total collapse. Structural engineers are going to have a lot of studying to do in order to mitigate the possibility of other similarly built bridges producing the same results, other than the common sense solution you provided.
What was interesting to me was how an adjacent bridge span lifted in the air even though it was well away from the impact site indicating how each span was dependent on each other rather than independent from each other. The pier between the affected arches became a fulcrum point that transferred the damage to the next section by lifting and separating it from the pier it was attached to, a chain reaction that was truly catastrophic as well as tragic.
It was a cantilever truss bridge. With the forces balanced between the parts, knocking over one part would severely compromise the rest.
 

brycejones

Lifer
Oct 18, 2005
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I think he's curious about why it looked to be steering away from that support, but then turned directly into it, or wasn't in the proper approach angle to easily avoid the pillar, as it was steering away from that power pole in front of it.

So, why did it do that? Power failure or accident/medical emergency in crew?
We don’t have nearly enough information yet.

The poster I was responding to originally was calling for murder chargers against the captain and speculating that pilots were not aboard. We now know there were pilots aboard that ship.

All those things you mentioned are possible. The least likely scenario but not impossible is someone said fuck it and decided to crash into the bridge.
 
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tweaker2

Lifer
Aug 5, 2000
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The camera angle makes it look like the ship intentionally turned and aimed for the bridge pier. I think it was really steering around the power pole upstream of the bridge. Having the upstream power poles set wider than the bridge piers may also play a role as it may create an impression that as long as the ship clears the poles, it's good.

View attachment 95898

Edit: Another issue is that ships have to keep to starboard passing under the bridge to avoid Fort Carrol which is just downstream from the bridge.
View attachment 95899

Possible that the pilot wanted to hit the pier as a means to stop the ship from ramming the more vulnerable spans, not knowing how worse things got from that decision? I'm thinking it's somewhat logical to make a decision like that based on how quickly time passes in emergency situations vs how slowly a large ship reacts to commands. It does look intentional from that point of view.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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I think a bridge with support columns in the waterway are a bad idea in deep water ports with freight traffic. A suspension bridge or a span that does not require support columns placed in the water near shipping lanes would be a much safer option.
umm whut? it's 2,600m long, with the longest span being 366m. what kind of bridge do you envision they could have built in the 70s? Also, the water is about 15m deep near the bridge.

makes more sense to protect bridge supports.
 
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Dec 10, 2005
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One video I saw on Twitter showed how it looks like power failed on the ship about a minute before the strike.
 
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tweaker2

Lifer
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It was a cantilever truss bridge. With the forces balanced between the parts, knocking over one part would severely compromise the rest.


Thanks for the clarification.

I assumed it was an arch bridge based on appearances and I'm clueless if they are, in some higher order, in the same classification.
 

K1052

Elite Member
Aug 21, 2003
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umm whut? it's 2,600m long, with the longest span being 366m. what kind of bridge do you envision they could have built in the 70s?

Just glancing at the site you'd need something about the size of the Verrazano which wile doable certainly would have cost a hell of a lot more than a suitable truss bridge.