NEW: Bridge Collision Update

( – According to a preliminary investigation, the container ship that collided with Maryland Francis Scott Key Bridge in March experienced multiple power failures several times before the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that The Dali first experienced a blackout during in-port maintenance at the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore Harbor on March 25, about 10 hours before departing the port.

During routine maintenance, a crew member incorrectly shut an engine exhaust damper, stalling the ship’s engine. This incident initiated the first in a series of power outages.

Shortly after, an AC generator kicked in but failed to maintain power due to low fuel pressure, leading to another blackout.

After departing the port, the Dali suffered its first blackout at sea at around 1:25 a.m. on March 26, just 0.6 miles from the bridge, while two electrical breakers tripped, causing most of the ship’s lights and equipment to lose power.

The outage also disabled the main engine and steering gear pumps, which rendered the rudder inoperative. The vessel’s voyage data recorder briefly stopped recording system data, though it continued to capture audio.

Furthermore, the crew acted swiftly, dropping the anchor to notify the Maryland Transportation Authority Police and the U.S. Coast Guard shortly. They also called for tugboat assistance, which responded immediately.

Power was momentarily restored in under three minutes, but it was short-lived. Due to additional breaker issues involving two other AC generators, another blackout ensued.

A third AC generator and an emergency generator kicked in, powering emergency systems, yet the main engine remained inactive, as it required all four AC generators to restart. This left the ship without the ability to propel itself.

Throughout this critical time, one of the pilots issued warnings to nearby vessels, and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) shut down the bridge.

Despite the crew’s partial restoration of power, the ship, still adrift, collided with the bridge at approximately 1:29 a.m., just minutes after the blackout began and before the tug could intervene.

The report noted that this was the first series of blackouts the Dali had experienced in the Baltimore port and any previous ports it had docked at after its arrival from Norfolk, Virginia, on March 23.

However, the vessel had a history of propulsion issues, including a fault during a port inspection in Chile in June 2023 and an incident in July 2016 when it collided with a berth in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium.

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