Local NewsMayday signal minutes before hitting bridge in Baltimore

Mayday signal minutes before hitting bridge in Baltimore

Mayday signal minutes before hitting bridge in Baltimore
Images source: © GETTY | The Washington Post
7:38 AM EDT, March 27, 2024

The Dali, a nearly 1,000-foot-long Singaporean cargo ship, was adrift after its lights unexpectedly went out shortly after 1:24 a.m. on Tuesday as it departed from the Port of Baltimore. The vessel had lost power, rendering it unable to steer and leaving it at the whim of the ocean currents.

Just four minutes after the power outage, the Dali collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing the 1.6-mile structure to collapse into the harbor in mere seconds. Six construction workers, who were at the time repairing potholes on the bridge, are currently unaccounted for.

Footage of the vessel, alongside emergency radio communications and insights from maritime experts, depicts a catastrophic event. Such large ships losing power is uncommon, and it's even more unusual for it to take place in confined waters near the supports of a significant bridge. A last-ditch mayday signal and prompt response efforts likely prevented a much more significant loss of life.

An onboard local pilot desperately issued commands, instructing the crew to sharply turn the rudder to the left and deploy the anchor to prevent the ship from veering to the right.

Despite the apparent activation of an emergency generator, the vessel could not restore functionality to its engines.

"Hold all traffic on the Key Bridge," commanded an anonymous first responder in emergency radio broadcasts shared online by Broadcastify, a platform that live streams and archives radio communications. There’s a ship approaching that just lost its steering."

Maryland Governor Wes Moore praised the crew as "heroes," stating that their rapid action "saved lives" by enabling authorities to halt vehicular traffic to the bridge within the crucial two-minute window between the alert and the collision.

Source: NBC News, CNN, BBC

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