Singapore-Flagged Cargo Ship Crashes into Major Bridge in U.S., Causing Complete Collapse

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The 300-metre container ship reportedly lost power and propulsion immediately prior to striking Maryland’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, which completely collapsed, sending cars plunging into the icy river below.

On Tuesday, March 26, a significant ‘mass-casualty event’ unfolded in the US city of Baltimore, Maryland when a Singapore-flagged container ship collided with a major bridge, causing a catastrophic collapse that sent numerous vehicles and as many as 20 individuals into the harbour below. Rescuers have managed to retrieve two survivors from the water, one of whom was in critical condition. Six people are missing and presumed dead.

The collision occurred at about 1.30am local time, so traffic on the bridge was significantly lighter than during daytime or early evening hours.

The ship, MV Dali, which appeared to be fully loaded in photos from the scene, is 299.92 metres in length, 48.2 metres in width, and even empty, has a gross weight of over 95,000 tonnes. Fully loaded, that weight could approach a massive 140,000 tonnes. The vessel appears to have collided with a critical support pylon of the bridge, which led to its rapid collapse.

Footage captured by a live video posted on YouTube depicted the moment of impact as the ship struck the 2.63-km-long Francis Scott Key Bridge (named for the author of the American national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’), resulting in several spans of the bridge collapsing into the cold river. Witnesses described seeing lights from vehicles on the road surface as the bridge warped and broke apart, with small explosions adding to the chaos.

For context, the famed Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is about 2.74 km in length.

Many media outlets reposted the video which captured of the bridge’s total collapse | Courtesy of The Guardian via YouTube

Kevin Cartwright of the Baltimore Fire Department reported that up to 20 individuals and multiple vehicles could have been on the bridge at the time of the collapse, prompting a mass-casualty response from multiple agencies. Initial investigations indicated that the ship may have experienced a loss of propulsion just before the collision, with an unclassified US intelligence report suggesting that the vessel had notified authorities of the possibility of a collision with the bridge.

“Unfortunately, we understand that there were up to 20 individuals who may be in the Patapsco River right now as well as multiple vehicles,” Mr Cartwright told CNN in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

“So we have … a mass-casualty multi-agency incident underway. We understand that there could have potentially been a vehicle, a tractor-trailer, or a vehicle as large as a tractor-trailer on the bridge at the time that it collapsed.”

A file photo of the container ship Dali, some 300 m long | Image Credit: MarineTraffic

Following the incident, a large-scale emergency response was activated, with divers deployed into the water to search for survivors. However, challenging conditions, including water temperatures of around 8.8°C, complicated search and rescue efforts. Photographs from the scene showed debris from the collapsed bridge resting on the deck of the ship, further complicating rescue operations due to unstable shipping containers.

Synergy Marine, the ship management company of the vessel Dali, confirmed that the ship had experienced a loss of power and propulsion before colliding with the bridge. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) reported that the ship had also dropped its anchor as part of emergency procedures. All 22 crew members on board the ship were reported safe, with no injuries reported.


That was the account given by Synergy Marine, the ship management company of the vessel Dali, to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

“Just prior to the incident, the vessel had experienced momentary loss of propulsion,” said MPA in a media statement on Tuesday, citing Synergy Marine. “As a result, she was unable to maintain the desired heading and collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge.”

Synergy Marine also told MPA that the container ship had dropped its anchor as part of the vessel’s emergency procedures prior to hitting the bridge.

The incident was headline news as Americans woke up on Tuesday morning | Image Credit: Fox News

As investigations continue, a team of investigators from the Singapore Transport Ministry’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau and MPA are en route to Baltimore to assist with inquiries. Singapore, as the flag state of the vessel, holds the responsibility of conducting an inquiry into the incident and ensuring compliance with maritime regulations. Despite these responsibilities, liability for losses or damages is expected to fall on the ship’s owners and may be covered by the ship’s insurers.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, as seen in 2021 | Image Credit: Wikipedia
Superstructure of the Key Bridge lying on the bow of the container ship Dali | Image Credit: AP

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