Bridge Collapse in Baltimore
March 26, 2024 7:18 AM   Subscribe

The 1.6-mile-long Francis Scott Key Bridge opened in 1977 as an outer crossing of Baltimore Harbor, over the Patapsco River, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority, its operator. It was struck around 1:30 am EDT by a container ship on its way out to sea. “What’s been indicated is the vessel lost power, and when you lose power you lose steering,” Cardin said. “But they’re doing a full investigation.”

NYT article gift link

Port footage of the collapse on youtube. (It's a livestream, so I don't know if it will link to the right time, but go to about 1:28am using the timestamp at the top of the video screen).
posted by hydra77 (260 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is absolutely insane. It was such a fixture of the Baltimore skyline and now it's just gone. I grew up driving and boating and partying under and around this bridge. I'm in shock.

gCaptain has some good coverage from the shipping/port perspective.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:23 AM on March 26 [21 favorites]


BBC live updates/livestream.

Totally unfortunate.

. for the victims of the collapse. I think there are still 6 missing at the moment.
posted by fight or flight at 7:24 AM on March 26 [7 favorites]


WaPo is also doing live updates.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:28 AM on March 26


I was up in the middle of the night seeing my mother off to the airport and I flipped into Threads before I went back to bed and the footage of the collapse was the first thing in my feed. And the second. And the third.

I sort of assumed what I was seeing was sped up a bit, but watching the harbour cam link, no, it just really went down that fast.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:28 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Been watching this story all morning. Currently authorities are saying 6 people are still missing. The collapse occurred around 1:30 am eastern, so unfortunately they've been in the water for several hours now 😕
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:37 AM on March 26


So sad for the construction workers who were on the bridge. I can't imagine that feeling. My heart goes to their families and to those who were on board the ship as well.

But very grateful for the timing of the impact that there weren't more cars on the bridge.
posted by hydra77 at 7:41 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


That livestream footage is incredible - it went down so fast. So sorry for the missing.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:42 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


what a clusterfuck.

so excited to see maersk dodge it's responsibility for the hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars of longterm economic damage (not to mention injuries and likely deaths) by using its subcontractor and flag of convenience jig as excuse

remember many of the "privatize the profits, socialize the losses" games in late capitalism originated with shipping.
posted by lalochezia at 7:42 AM on March 26 [99 favorites]


The closure of the port, for however long it takes to clear the debris is going to hit Baltimore hard. That's a lot of jobs directly affected by any shutdown, and a lot more dependent on those, too.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:44 AM on March 26 [19 favorites]


The governor said in a press conference that when the ship radioed an SOS after losing power, police were able to start diverting traffic. That’s very quick work.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:44 AM on March 26 [68 favorites]


watching a random yt channel (What is Going on With Shipping?) the guy said the captain was trying to stop by reversing engines, but on a single screw that pushed the ship starboard, into the bridge pier.
posted by torokunai at 7:51 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


46% of bridges in the US are 50 years old or older, and 7.5% are structurally deficient.

This was an extraordinary event, but it is just a sign of a critical problem with infrastructure nationwide. It is indeed fortunate that it didn't happen during a higher-traffic time of day.
posted by briank at 7:51 AM on March 26 [10 favorites]


I know folks are struck by how quickly it collapses, and I caution people to think it is because of faulty design. It's a susepension bridge - able to be light and easy to build by the strength of the opposing forces. Knock out one piece, and it collapses.
posted by frecklefaerie at 7:54 AM on March 26 [71 favorites]


That's what I thought -- it took out a key structural support, and I'm not sure that maintenance or engineering could have prevented a tragedy at that point.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:00 AM on March 26 [11 favorites]


This was an extraordinary event, but it is just a sign of a critical problem with infrastructure nationwide.

Do we actually know our crumbling infrastructure was a contributing factor here? (It's not going to help obviously (if in fact the bridge was in a poor state), but we're like twelve hours in, so it's at little early for broad definitive statements about causes.)
posted by hoyland at 8:00 AM on March 26 [30 favorites]


Yeah, I think this is less about the bridge being structurally deficient and more about thousands of tons of moving metal striking one of the support pillars. I doubt there's a way to design around that.

It'll be very interesting to find out why the ship lost power. Like many, I'm wondering how often has that problem occurred on that particular ship previously and what, if anything, was done to address it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on March 26 [20 favorites]


It's a suspension bridge - able to be light and easy to build by the strength of the opposing forces.

Not to be pedantic but it's a continuous truss bridge, not a suspension bridge. It has similar drawbacks, in terms of limited fault tolerance, but for different reasons: the load isn't being transmitted to piers at either end, but rather distributed across the spans and then down into each of the piers in the river.
posted by fifthrider at 8:02 AM on March 26 [63 favorites]


The Governor says that the bridge was fully up to code.

In light of America's well-documented infrastructure problems, one of the questions swirling after the bridge collapse has been whether it had any pre-existing issues.

But the governor just told reporters the span was "fully up to code".

He said road crews seen working on the bridge before the collision were repairing potholes, rather than addressing any structural problems.

posted by cooker girl at 8:02 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


watching a random yt channel (What is Going on With Shipping?) the guy said the captain was trying to stop by reversing engines, but on a single screw that pushed the ship starboard, into the bridge pier.

I had presumed it was dual-screw and the starboard screw had quit, but this makes more sense. That black plume of smoke coming out of the exhaust right before the ship veers hard to the right must be the captain reversing. That also speaks poorly of that captain's grasp of ship physics.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:04 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


The power outage on the ship is key, it was under the command of a local pilot (as required by law) although they will be investigated along with everything else.
posted by tommasz at 8:04 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Yes, the ship would have been under the command of a pilot who is intimately familiar with Baltimore harbor.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:09 AM on March 26 [7 favorites]


If you're on the fence about buying a new or used car, you should sign the papers in the next 12-24 hours if possible.

Baltimore is the east coast hub for all incoming shipments of automobiles, so this will first drive up the price of new, then used cars, for a while.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:11 AM on March 26 [47 favorites]


HumanComplex thank you for the gCaptain link, it had a lot of information I’m not seeing elsewhere.
posted by lepus at 8:11 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I didn't realize cruises also went out of Baltimore. There are two ships in the Caribbean that will have to reroute and lots of other upcoming spring break cruises will have to divert, if they depart at all.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:13 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


. for those on the bridge. I have read about the physics of bridge collapses; it's horrifying and terrible to see it happen.
posted by Gelatin at 8:16 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Lots of good discussions on Bluesky but basically, no bridge could realistically absorb that much impact. It's just a tragedy, unless some kind of negligence by the captain or ship company can be proved.
posted by emjaybee at 8:17 AM on March 26 [11 favorites]


It sounds like the bridge was closed to traffic when the SOS was sounded, but the missing people were all on work crews doing masonry work or filling potholes. Why the hell were they not evacuated when the bridge was closed?
posted by thecjm at 8:18 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


AP News also has a livefeed.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said all vessel traffic into and out of the port would be suspended until further notice, though the facility was still open to trucks.
I found this image, purporting to be from FEMA's National Watch Center, saying that long-term operations interruptions for Baltimore Harbor are expected.

Can't find it now, but a previous AP News article said that this will cause (at least?) months of pain for the East Coast of the US as a whole, since the Port of Baltimore is such a key shipping hub.
posted by brainwane at 8:18 AM on March 26


It's just a tragedy, unless some kind of negligence by the captain or ship company can be proved.

The fact that the ship lost power at the very beginning of a trans-global voyage raises obvious questions about maintenance. We've seen with Boeing that cutting costs (and increasing profits) by offloading maintenance on subsidiaries doesn't work out well except for shareholders and unless it was an absolutely unforeseeable occurrence somehow, it's hard not to imagine there's a similar dynamic in play here.
posted by Gelatin at 8:20 AM on March 26 [20 favorites]


Plainly Difficult: The Sunshine SkyWay Bridge Disaster 1980. A similar incident of a freighter striking a bridge.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:23 AM on March 26 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I think this is less about the bridge being structurally deficient and more about thousands of tons of moving metal striking one of the support pillars. I doubt there's a way to design around that.
Yeah, if I’m doing the math right that’s like 600 million newton-seconds. That’s just a massive amount of energy to deflect or absorb and I don’t know how much larger the budget would have needed to be to cover that.
posted by adamsc at 8:25 AM on March 26 [7 favorites]


It sounds like the bridge was closed to traffic when the SOS was sounded

The bridge was not closed to traffic. There was minimal traffic due to time of day plus roadworks but it was not totally closed to traffic.

A mayday signal was sent when the ship was approaching the bridge, Maryland Governor Wes Moore said, which stopped cars coming on the bridge and "saved lives"

posted by cooker girl at 8:31 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Found a PDF source that is likely that FEMA briefing (evidently it's just nearly impossible to find the daily ops briefing on FEMA's site so this independent aggregator finds, reposts, and archives them):
Impacts: (USCG, R3 SPOTREP as of 6:45 a.m. ET, Mar 26)
  • All lanes of I-695 in the vicinity closed until further notice
  • Alternate harbor crossings: Fort McHenry (I-95) and Baltimore Harbor (I-895) tunnels
  • Vehicles transporting HAZMATs are prohibited in tunnels and should use the western section of I-695
  • Port of Baltimore is closed and long-term interruptions to operations are expected
    • CISA coordinating with the Transportation Systems Sector Risk Management Agency (SRMA), the COMM-ISAC, and the USCG to determine impacts, including cascading impacts from the loss of the bridge
posted by brainwane at 8:32 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Do we actually know our crumbling infrastructure was a contributing factor here?

If it is in fact more about negligence and lack of fail-safes on the boat instead of negligence on bridge maintenance and replacement, as would seem to be the likely case: then the general cause is the same in my book, just involving a different sector of bad safety planning. And it's never a bad time to be reminded of the abysmal state of our bridge infrastructure, because we'll be seeing more collapses due to a variety of causes if we can't put some serious political will and money into that problem. Maryland gets a B grade overall in bridge infrastructure as of 2020, when the average bridge age was 48 years old. Terrifyingly, this puts them well ahead of nation as a whole, who gets a C (as linked above).
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:36 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


It's just absurd that one engine going out for a few seconds can cause what's easily billions of dollars in damage (the bridge alone originally cost over $700 million in today's dollars). They should have a rule that ships large enough to take out a bridge should have enough tug assist attached to maintain full navigational control if they're anywhere near it. Even with a ship this size, even if this is exceptionally rare, that's got to save money and lives.

But no, we're going to let whatever shell company owns that ship declare bankruptcy, then go back to business as usual. Privatize the profits, socialize the losses.
posted by netowl at 8:40 AM on March 26 [46 favorites]


Christopher Mims, author of Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door -- Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy, posted in the Fediverse:
As a person who has actually ridden with harbor pilots before and wrote a whole book about shipping goods across oceans here’s a tiny bit of possibly clarifying detail about this horrible bridge tragedy:

If as reported there was a power failure on this container ship that could have been enough on its own to send it into the bridge.

Maneuvers for ships this large are incredibly tight when they are going in and out of harbors. We don’t think about it but harbor pilots perform miracles every day

Little else can be said about whatever happened with this ship and bridge until there’s more disclosure. Which I imagine will happen soon. Whatever happened, everyone on board knows. No point talking about it until rescue is complete.

I just hope the seven reported missing people are all found and safe.
posted by brainwane at 8:41 AM on March 26 [19 favorites]


I don't understand why there no tugs attached to a ship that close to infrastructure?
posted by sammyo at 8:41 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Back in my reporting days I did a lot of work with the DOT's national bridge inspection database. As reporters start to hit that data today, you may see the words "structurally deficient" or "functionally obsolete" used in stories. These are great scary words from a reporter's POV but when you dig into the technical definition, well, not so much.

A bridge with components rated as "structurally deficient" is in need of serious work (and serious expenditures, which is why this rating comes up a lot in the US) but that does not mean it's in imminent danger of falling into the water.
posted by martin q blank at 8:43 AM on March 26 [12 favorites]


what a clusterfuck.

Yeah really. This bridge is part of the Baltimore beltway. Driving between BWI and rural Pennsylvania for a wedding last month, we almost drove over it but GPS advised going around 'Charm City' the other way, possibly because of the on-going construction.
posted by Rash at 8:46 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


we're going to let whatever shell company owns that ship declare bankruptcy

The cost of the rebuild will no doubt be picked up by the ships insurers, so Baltimore gets a new bridge and every container ship will then get to pay higher premiums as a result.
posted by Lanark at 8:51 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Which will get passed down to all of us.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:53 AM on March 26 [11 favorites]


Another local news site that will have ongoing coverage: The Baltimore Banner. (The Baltimore Sun was recently, after many troubles, bought by a wealthy conservative activist who hates newspapers. The Baltimore Banner is a project funded by a different wealthy guy but the Banner's goal is to have local news coverage including investigative news.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:56 AM on March 26 [32 favorites]


I agree with LobsterMitten that the Baltimore Banner is a great organization, but there are still a lot of excellent professional journalists at the Baltimore Sun. A good friend is the top news editor at the paper, and the running story includes contributor lines of two reporters I know, folks who have been there for upward of 25 years and who know the city intimately.
posted by martin q blank at 9:00 AM on March 26 [19 favorites]


Yes, to be clear - I fully support the dedicated pro's at the Baltimore Sun! I subscribe to both. But the Sun is facing a difficult situation moving forward with the new owner, and I figured people outside the area might be interested to know of the Banner.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:02 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


The cost of the rebuild will no doubt be picked up by the ships insurers...

I doubt that very much. There's just no way they have that much insurance. We'll have to wait quite a few years for the final word, but I think this is mostly being picked up by the public.
posted by netowl at 9:08 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


I dunno. I don't think we should be supporting the Sun, even if some good people are stuck there because they need to get paid. Let it die and suffer for the monstrosity of its owner, and places like the banner pick up the revenue and hire the good people from the Sun. I do not think it is ethical to subscribe to the Sun.

I knew some people who worked at the Sun in the 80s. They were great. I mourn the paper.

Back to the bridge:

Dundalk has always been a relatively economically depressed part of the region, and I think commuters from Dundalk will be the hardest hit.

I can count on one hand the number of times I took the FSK; you really don't need to unless you're traveling between places like Glen Burnie and Annapolis and Dundalk or the Eastern shore. Through traffic from DC to Philly or NYC are much better served by other routes.

I suppose, as shocking as this is, I don't see it being a fatal blow to the region.

This all depends on how quickly they clear the water for access to the harbor, of course. But I suspect they'll do that incredibly quickly with 24 hour work, once the search and rescue is cleared.
posted by constraint at 9:23 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


The litigation around this and who will be paying and who is at fault will take years if not decades to resolve.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:24 AM on March 26 [8 favorites]


I've watched that video a bunch of times now, and the ship doesn't start veering hard to starboard until the lights come back on and all of that smoke starts pouring out of the smokestack. I'll be very interested to see what the outcome of this investigation is. It really feels like multiple things went wrong in succession.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:26 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Just read on twitter that the ship had JUST left the dock!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:27 AM on March 26


The armor around the '風の塔' (Wind Tower) structure featured in this music video protects the fresh air supply vents for the Trans Bay Aqualine, and even that much hardening doesn't look like enough . . .
posted by torokunai at 9:30 AM on March 26


Yes, the ship would have been under the command of a pilot who is intimately familiar with Baltimore harbor.

My understanding is that pilots offer advice to captains, who remain formally in command of their ships.

In much the same way that command master sergeants offer advice to new second lieutenants.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:38 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


Why the hell were they not evacuated when the bridge was closed?

The bridge is 1.6 miles long. Its likely they were warned, but there wasn't actually time to get off the bridge.
posted by anastasiav at 9:38 AM on March 26 [10 favorites]


I saw video of the actual collapse this morning and it was primally in-my-gut terrifying even on the laptop screen. Hope they find the missing folks alive.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 9:41 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


What Is Going on With Shipping has a posted a video of synced views of GPS data and video that shows the ship drifting off course, not any hard steering.
posted by maudlin at 9:41 AM on March 26 [17 favorites]


The cost of the rebuild will no doubt be picked up by the ships insurers

Doubtful. I know insurance is often industry-specific, so I don't want to pronounce too definitively, but (even setting aside what will doubtless be epic litigation) it seems to me unlikely that any one ship or even company carries this much coverage for damages to third parties in one incident.
posted by praemunire at 9:42 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Its likely they were warned, but there wasn't actually time to get off the bridge.

If they were operating heavy machinery or working in rigging, they probably also couldn't just drop everything instantly without serious risk to themselves or others.
posted by praemunire at 9:43 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


The ship had a similar mishap in Antwerp in 2016. Curious to know who built the thing.

Port of Baltimore is (was) the largest RO/RO hub for vehicles in the US. Not all ports are similarly equipped. How much of this traffic can be re-routed is an interesting question.
posted by BWA at 9:47 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Seems weird that the ship was so close to the bridge pier to begin with. I suppose there are "lanes" in the river to accomodate 2-way traffic, but if there's nothing coming in the other direction, doesn't it seem safer to steer down the middle?
posted by rikschell at 9:48 AM on March 26


it seem safer to steer down the middle?

it was, until it lost all electric power, then everybody is a passenger

ideally all big ships would have battery failover backup for its critical systems, but we're not entirely in the 21st century yet for that apparently.
posted by torokunai at 9:52 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I just watched that What Is Going On With Shipping video, and it made me realize how deceptive the video is in terms of how wide the ship is versus how narrow the space between the bridge piers is. It seems like there's plenty of room, and normally I guess there is. But when you lose control of a big ship, I guess it can drift quickly.
posted by rikschell at 9:59 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I wonder what if any upgrades were done to the bridge after the very similar Sunshine Skyway Bridge failed after one of its piers was hit by a ship.
posted by interogative mood at 10:01 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I wonder what if any upgrades were done to the bridge after the very similar Sunshine Skyway Bridge failed after one of its piers was hit by a ship.

I imagine it would be much like trying to Godzilla-proof a skyscraper: there's no object immovable enough to stop an unstoppable force like a runaway cargo ship.

I live in north Baltimore, so I've only driven across the Key Bridge a handful of times. But this isn't going to be good for anybody, and the knock-on effects will range from the annoying to the catastrophic over the next unknown number of years. (Maybe there are some particularly ghoulish bridge engineers looking forward to the opportunity?)
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:07 AM on March 26 [16 favorites]


In aviation (and spaceflight) there's the concept of an "essential bus" which contains all of the critical stuff for flight, and there are multiple ways to deliver power to it. I'm guessing we'll be learning more about maritime power systems in the near future.
posted by credulous at 10:10 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Why the hell were they not evacuated when the bridge was closed?

There was apparently only 4 minutes between the SOS from the ship to the collision. That might be enough time to close the lanes onto the bridge, depending on what equipment or warning signs are there, but highly unlikely to be enough time for the message to get to the road workers and for them to get in their vehicles and off the bridge. Even for regular traffic, I suspect the limited number of missing was luck and the early morning hour.
posted by tavella at 10:11 AM on March 26 [7 favorites]


And it's never a bad time to be reminded of the abysmal state of our bridge infrastructure, because we'll be seeing more collapses due to a variety of causes if we can't put some serious political will and money into that problem.

I often visit Providence, Rhode Island; it's where my parents come to fetch me when I visit them (they pick me up there and drive us the rest of the way to Cape Cod), and I recently visited some friends who flew there for some only-available-there surgery. Both my parents and my friends pointed out this major issue that Providence is going through when it comes to traffic patterns - a bridge that's part of a highway overpass for I-95 is going through some emergency repair and may be out of commission for the next 5 years.

My parents added a detail they'd heard (which may be apocryphal): that the damage was spotted by a very new safety inspector, out on his first inspection for his first job out of college, and so he was being super-extra-diligent because of new-guy nerves, and so he was the one who saw the damage and was like "Uh, boss, is that supposed to look like that?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on March 26 [12 favorites]


ideally all big ships would have battery failover backup for its critical systems, but we're not entirely in the 21st century yet for that apparently.

Generally these things do have some kind of back up power system to handle those systems, so there is more to this story than what any of us know at this point.
posted by drstrangelove at 10:24 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


This all depends on how quickly they clear the water for access to the harbor, of course. But I suspect they'll do that incredibly quickly with 24 hour work, once the search and rescue is cleared.

If you're suggesting the wreckage of the bridge will be cleared from the channel in 24 hours, I seriously doubt that. That's going to require an analysis of the wreckage to create a plan for safely slicing it up into manageable sections using cutting torches. Then they'll need to move in big cranes on barges for holding and lifting sections and barges to carry away the sections once they're cut free. And a place to deliver the sections. They might even need the means of supporting pieces of the bridge to keep it above water in order to cut it. And all of this will require crews with the requisite skills.

My guess is that it will be many months before the channel is clear. (Would be happy to be wrong.)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 10:24 AM on March 26 [8 favorites]


So that's why I kept seeing this Wire meme about the bridge lasting a long time, like the Union.
posted by symbioid at 10:26 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I wonder what if any upgrades were done to the bridge after the very similar Sunshine Skyway Bridge failed after one of its piers was hit by a ship.

Apparantly none. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge replacement was outfitted with dolphins. Would they have helped here? Not my area of expertise. Anyone?
posted by BWA at 10:26 AM on March 26


doesn't it seem safer to steer down the middle?

It's possible they steered into the column on purpose and was the safest option for the crew and other vessels. Hitting the middle still would have taken out the bridge, but then would have pushed hundreds of containers onto the deck and overboard, and would not have stopped the ship.
posted by braksandwich at 10:27 AM on March 26


But I suspect they'll do that incredibly quickly with 24 hour work, once the search and rescue is cleared.

I think they mean they'll be working around the clock.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:30 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


I’d be interested to know more about the governing bodies that would enforce any rules about seaworthiness for container ships. This particular one is owned by a Singaporean company and was operated (or chartered) by a Danish one.

How does a third country ensure a ship like this isn’t going to destroy a harbor due to, say, poor maintenance of its engines?
posted by theory at 10:30 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


We’ve been watching a lot of monster movies and that bridge wreckage is some kinda “Godzilla was here” level shit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:32 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


I've been on a morbid disaster kick for a while and have regularly been watching YT creators like Brick Immortar and Dark Records, both of whom draw on local news and NTSB reports compiled from the incidents

the defining theme in pretty much every video is that companies will cheap the fuck out when it comes to safety, maintenance, and just about everything else (and separately the vast majority of cruise ship captains are totally incompetent and will abandon ship well before informing passengers of the actual dangers in the face of a disaster scenario)

this kind of negligence will then lead to penalties and fines and, hopefully, far stricter regulation and oversight on maintenance, etc. but the thing is, it's very likely that dock workers, auditors, inspectors, and sailors have all been extremely well aware of huge gaps in safety that could lead to disasters like these and they're all pretty much ignored until some horrible tragedy happens

we don't learn lessons from the past when it comes to disasters like these. this is one in a long line of horrific and likely easily preventable tragedies that only happened because private industry wanted to reap slightly better margins on their profits. it's one of the most frustrating and revealing things I've had the displeasure of learning more about and is yet more ammunition in the ever growing bandolier of fuck corporations and capitalism
posted by paimapi at 10:35 AM on March 26 [23 favorites]


Meanwhile, Perfectly Normal People are attributing the accident and its aftermath to:
* our wide-open border (Maria Bartiromo, FOX)
* DEI and "anti-white business practices" (one of the usual Twitter assholes whom I shall not dignify by naming)
* Biden's infrastructure bill (Nancy Mace on FOX)
* "drug-addled" employees and COVID lockdowns (Matt Schlapp, Newsmax)
* explosive charges, political corruption resulting in substandard bridge materials and maintenance, retaliation by Israel, retaliation by God on behalf of Israel (various randos),

and so on.

As with any catastrophe, do take anything you hear in the early hours (even from far more reputable sources than the above clowncar) with a grain of salt.
posted by delfin at 10:36 AM on March 26 [29 favorites]


I first heard about this on NPR this morning, but I didn’t realize just how big that ship was until I watched the video. It’s hard to imagine any bridge withstanding an impact from something that big. That was terrifying.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:40 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


doesn't it seem safer to steer down the middle?

It's possible they steered into the column on purpose


It is doubtful that they could steer at all at that point. If they could have they would have avoided hitting the bridge.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:48 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


I've seen worries about terrorism, but no definitive statements. I don't think terrorism is plausible because terrorists aim for killing a lot of people, and this happened at 1:30 AM when there's little traffic.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:55 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


How awful and terrifying for the workers on the bridge. I hope the six missing people are found alive.

When the Cosco Busan hit the fenders of the Bay Bridge supports, it tore a hole in the ship and dumped 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay. It was an environmental disaster, but there was no loss of human life. We were lucky that the ship didn't hit the bridge straight on and create an even larger disaster.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:09 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


delfin: “Meanwhile, Perfectly Normal People are attributing the accident and its aftermath to”
“Key Bridge Collapse Misinformation”—Ryan McBeth, 26 March 2024
The first piece of misinformation about the bridge occurred at 6:33 AM, Mar 26, 2024 by Indian Defense Analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:15 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


It's possible they steered into the column on purpose and was the safest option for the crew and other vessels. Hitting the middle still would have taken out the bridge, but then would have pushed hundreds of containers onto the deck and overboard, and would not have stopped the ship.

Nothing in this comment makes sense.

Either the bridge is designed to let cargo ships pass underneath it (and cargo ships are loaded to allow them to pass under the bridge), or this ship has been trapped in Baltimore harbor for its entire existence - no, the ship would not have taken the out the bridge if it went under the middle.

If they had enough control to steer the ship toward something, they would A) go for the middle of the bridge that was designed to let container ships under it, or B) intentionally beach the ship. Hitting a bridge pier seems like the least effective, most destructive thing possible.

I'm quite sure that "stopping the ship" takes a lower priority to things like destroying a multi-billion dollar piece of infrastructure.
posted by LionIndex at 11:17 AM on March 26 [31 favorites]


I keep thinking about the old one-liner: "Anybody can build a bridge that stays up. It takes an engineer to build a bridge that just barely stays up."
I'm not trying to find a punchline for a tragedy, but it's kind of a framework for thinking about the various pressures and incentives that circumscribe engineering and architectural best practices. People in this thread have made the point that the bridge was up to spec, and I believe them. But at the same time, the spec itself is dictated by external pressures of budget, schedule, etc. that are themselves dictated by political ideology, capital, and various other factors -- only some of which relate to the material reality of building the best possible bridge.
At the same time, there are principles of resource conservation, ecological preservation, etc. that would preclude just overbuilding every piece of infrastructure to last a thousand years. Would it even be possible to build a bridge this long, on this site, that does more than "just barely stay up," or are certain fragility modes the price of a bridge in this location?

And of course, obviously, humankind can build nothing so strong that it can't be destroyed by just, like, smashing a huge enough thing into it. What a decade we're having.
posted by Krawczak at 11:43 AM on March 26 [7 favorites]


That ship is literally the size of a skyscraper. Just slightly smaller than the Chrysler building. Thankfully for the environment it was a container ship rather than a tanker or carrying toxic bulk cargo, and by how high it was in the water it looks like a lot of the containers were empty - common on the US to Asia leg. It'd need an army of tugs to provide alternate propulsion and the costs of ships and crew add up fast. I suspect some new safety and navigation regulations will appear once the accident reports are digested by the International Maritime Organisation and other relevant bodies.

Someone should get a medal for how quickly that bridge was emptied of traffic.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:53 AM on March 26 [26 favorites]


Except for that semi that is going over just as we know what is about to happen...

GET OFF OF THE BRIDGE!!!
posted by Windopaene at 11:56 AM on March 26


I claim sanctuary: “Someone should get a medal for how quickly that bridge was emptied of traffic.”
“Ship’s Mayday Call Before Baltimore Bridge Crash Saved Lives,” Nacha Cattan and Yongchang Chin, Bloomberg, 26 March 2024
posted by ob1quixote at 11:56 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Perfectly Normal People are attributing the accident and its aftermath to

delfin, I appreciate you keeping up with the crazies, but I worry about actually linking to them, which ultimately can amplify their lies and/or reward them with click-through revenue.
posted by gwint at 11:57 AM on March 26 [24 favorites]


BWA: The Sunshine Skyway Bridge replacement was outfitted with dolphins. Would they have helped here? Not my area of expertise. Anyone?

CNN interviewed an ironworker who helped build the Key Bridge back in the 70s, and he said that it had dolphins but they didn't work:

From looking at the footage, he says it appears that the dolphins, the concrete bumpers around the pilings meant to protect the structure, didn’t work because of the exact place and way the ship hit. He speculates that the ship seems to have perhaps avoided the bumpers or only side-swiped them.

He said, unfortunately, the ship seemed to have hit at the most vulnerable part of the bridge.

“It looks like it hit the only spot it could have hit to take the whole thing down,” he said. “It hit at probably the weakest part of the bridge.”

posted by dlugoczaj at 11:57 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


I keep thinking about the old one-liner: "Anybody can build a bridge that stays up. It takes an engineer to build a bridge that just barely stays up."

The joke isn't how it actually works in the real world, unless fraud or corruption enters the frame. Factors of safety (2x or more) for various types of adverse environmental events have to be taken into account. If the bridge was built correctly according to prevailing engineering code and standards it was decidedly NOT built to "barely stay up" and I'd contend that engineering standards for infrastructure are among the things that have not been very susceptible to ideology or political influence. Even corrupt places such as Turkey which had the complete collapse and destruction of many buildings had its corruption not manifested in a thumb on the scale of the building codes, it was lax enforcement of the codes. I think you're barking up the wrong tree when you state that the spec / the code prevailing for building the FSK bridge may have been compromised politically.

One of its supports being struck by a moving skyscraper weighing tens of thousands of tons is not merely something that isn't designed for, but arguably shouldn't be designed for. As far as I know, the failure here was neither the bridge nor its design nor its construction. The failure was the ship.
posted by tclark at 12:10 PM on March 26 [27 favorites]


delfin, I appreciate you keeping up with the crazies, but I worry about actually linking to them, which ultimately can amplify their lies and/or reward them with click-through revenue.

FWIW, the randos quoted are generally just that -- random randos of no consequence -- while the bigger names are people like Aaron Rupar reporting on tweets/news feeds rather than direct links to the originals.
posted by delfin at 12:11 PM on March 26 [6 favorites]


> The failure was the ship.

or the requirement of miracles to get out of the harbor safely.
posted by torokunai at 12:28 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


In 1977 when the bridge was built, container ships were a lot smaller. They held perhaps 2-4000TEUs; today's largest ships are 5x this size. I'm sure the channel under the bridge has been dredged out multiple times to accommodate ships with deeper drafts and thus more container capacity. It's just. Those are big boats. And boats that size were not even an inkling in the bridge engineer's eyes when they built it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:35 PM on March 26 [26 favorites]


Container ships were much smaller when the bridge was designed 50 years ago. It is likely that any collision mitigation would have been done with 1970s sized ships in mind, and not the super-sized vessels of the distant future of 2024.
posted by surlyben at 12:40 PM on March 26 [10 favorites]


The best way to mitigate ships knocking down bridges is not to build stronger bridges, it is to make ships easier to navigate and less prone to failure.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:45 PM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Bridges don’t “just barely stand up”. Engineering is the practice of putting in the least amount of materials to achieve rather conservative design requirements. Plus, bridge construction is kind of like rocketry. The heavier it is the worse it works, because now it has to be stronger just to keep itself standing.

My professor had a similar quip to yours, but I liked it better. “Anyone can fill the Grand Canyon to the top with concrete if they wanted to get to the other side.”
posted by Huggiesbear at 12:46 PM on March 26 [12 favorites]


As someone who has personally captained a (much smaller 100') ship in a commercial harbor that has lost power, I can say the priority is keeping the ship in the channel, away from crashing into things or running hard aground until you can get power/propulsion back online. The Whats Going on With Shipping video is a great explainer, possibly missing one variable that may or may not apply to this vessel. With the vessel I work with, when we put the engine in hard reverse with the intention to stop the boat, our right-handed prop walk has our stern drift to starboard (and therefore bow to port). If the vessel did in fact get power back (as it appears from the smoke from the smoke stack, unless that was a fire) and attempted to stop/slow the vessel with hard reverse, they may have had a left-handed prop, with a prop walk may have pushed the bow starboard, towards the piling. That may be why they reportedly deployed the port anchor, to stop the bow from swinging starboard.

All conjecture of course, but as someone who understands boats a bit more than most, I cannot imagine being crew or captain of that vessel in that situation. Losing power in close quarters is a captain's worst nightmare. Especially with a vessel that size that takes miles to come to a full stop, even at 8.7kts. There's not much more they could have done, unless mechanically at fault for losing power. I'm going to avoid Armchair Captaining until we know more.
posted by danapiper at 12:46 PM on March 26 [97 favorites]


in my line of work I often use giant ships as a metaphor - small craft can be more easily steered on short notice while larger shipping vessels take much longer to correct course like say a small business v an Enterprise Corp.

I don't think I'll use that in my interview tomorrow....
posted by djseafood at 12:58 PM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Note that the Bloomberg article underestimates the size of the Dali. Its maximum deadweight tonnage is over 116 thousand tonnes and it was loaded halfway, so 58 thousand tonnes of cargo plus the weight of the ship. It's a Neopanamax class, it would have only been able to fit in the Panama Canal since 2016 - handily it was built in 2015, in anticipation of the canal expansion, and initially served the North European route to Antwerp/Rotterdam.

Container shipping is cheaper on bigger ships - simplifing, for each size increase of x%, you reduce fuel consumption per container by 1/(1+x). The shipping companies will always build the biggest ships allowed, it's been a race to modify the infrastructure. Currently it's pushing 18 metres draft and 400 metres long in the open ocean - really not many ports can service these behemoths or let them manoeuvre.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:06 PM on March 26 [12 favorites]


doesn't it seem safer to steer down the middle?

Ctrl-F "The front fell off."

Yeah, I flew out of MSP the day that the I-35 bridge fell into the Mississippi, which was a direct enactment of a nightmare I have been having about that river's bridges more-than-annually since I was a tyke. Loved that.

Now I live outside Providence, RI, where -- as EmpressC. described -- the major bridge carrying the interstate westbound into downtown was just declared DOOMED. They announced this just after lunch on a workday, so it took for ever for folks to get home.

Luckily, there's a separate bridge next to it carrying the eastbound traffic out, so they just split it down the middle, and commuters will have...uh...I guess...50% capacity until it's done. *sad trombone* Still, beats falling into the river at rush hour, so there's that.

The state DoT has a dedicated web page with a truly bewildering pile of charts and maps, which begins, "HOW TO USE: For each of the nine travel routes highlighted below, RIDOT has provided three helpful charts." *headdesk*
posted by wenestvedt at 1:09 PM on March 26 [6 favorites]


You know how David Simon is famously a colossal prick who has no respect for anyone's feelings? Maybe keep a civil tongue in your head when spouting conspiracy theories.

It's not nice, but it's necessary.
posted by East14thTaco at 1:25 PM on March 26 [13 favorites]


"The front fell off." this is a case where the front falling off would have been preferable.
posted by Lanark at 1:39 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


(oops, I thought it was a drawbridge)
posted by braksandwich at 3:10 PM on March 26


Isn’t there a single flag historically used to signal “We are not in control of this vessel”? The horrors of a lee shore, etc.?
posted by clew at 3:13 PM on March 26


Also, as far as structural engineering goes, the main cause of failure is always lack of redundancy. With enough redundancy, anything will stay up forever. Practically, though, redundancy costs a lot in money, time, and material, and we would usually like to save that for other buildings, bridges, roads, etc. there will always be trade-offs, and I expect building the Key Bridge to withstand a hit from an unimaginably huge ship (for its design period) would have required equally unattractive trade offs.

Its a bit like anti-hurricane measures designed for the storm strength and frequency of the 70s having to contend with the storm situation in the 2020s….
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:13 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Perfectly Normal People are attributing the accident and its aftermath to:

Please cross reference themse statements with statements the same yuckyucks have made about not politicizing gun masssacres. I'm guessing that would turn out to be one of them circular venn diagram things.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:20 PM on March 26 [11 favorites]


Meanwhile, Perfectly Normal People are attributing the accident and its aftermath to:

Personally, I’m blaming the Mothman. Isn’t it his responsibility to warn us of bridge collapses?
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:26 PM on March 26 [8 favorites]


So dolphins may or may not have saved the bridge in this instance -- they may have diverted enough of the ship's kinetic energy to keep the pier standing, or they may not have. But I think it's pretty negligent to defer their installation after the example of the Tampa disaster. Structural safety is predicated on "best known practice" and since Tampa, dolphins have been the best known practice for protecting marine structures from modern cargo ships.

That being said, I'm confident that as the analysis is done here, we'll find a McKinsey or Deloitte consultant at the root of all this -- whether they instructed Maersk to remove a redundant power system because it was overkill given the company's risk exposure or they instructed Maryland's bridge authority to defer the installation of dolphins and rely instead on the knowledge and capabilities of Baltimore's port captains... or both.

This whole thing has the classic shape, melody, and rhythm of a failure of late-stage capitalism, no different from Boeing's current troubles or VW's diesel issues...
posted by turbowombat at 3:28 PM on March 26 [12 favorites]


>“We are not in control of this vessel”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_maritime_signal_flags says Delta ("Keep clear of me; I am maneuvering with difficulty") I guess, though ChatGPT recommends November + Charlie, the international distress code.

There's a park I like to sit at in SF that has a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The people who put that up were building for the future . . . 4200' span!

This truss design was like a college engineering challenge winner for the cheapest way to bridge that strait.
posted by torokunai at 3:43 PM on March 26 [6 favorites]


thanks torokunai! I wonder if I was thinking of Romeo:
No ICS meaning as single flag.
Prior to 1969: "The way is off my ship; you may feel your way past me."
posted by clew at 3:48 PM on March 26


Just as a general thing, Petrowski's _To Engineer Is Human_ says that new designs are typically built stronger than they need to be. This is expensive, and there's a process of shaving away redundancy until there's a disaster, followed by more cautious design.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 3:57 PM on March 26 [6 favorites]


and I'd contend that engineering standards for infrastructure are among the things that have not been very susceptible to ideology or political influence

I am a civil engineer for a major metropolitan area.

You are incorrect.
posted by curious nu at 4:52 PM on March 26 [47 favorites]


there's a process of shaving away redundancy until there's a disaster, followed by more cautious design.

It's the CIR-cle of Li-i-ife!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:52 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Since this occurred at night, I don't think that signal flags would be used. If I'm not mistaken, however, they should have displayed an appropriate set of lights which I think would be two red lights on the mast, one above the other, to indicate that the vessel was no longer under control. But I don't think we know nearly enough about the exact timeline of events to even know if it was feasible for them to change their lights (is that automated these days on ships like this?) or if they were consumed with other activities.
posted by ElKevbo at 5:23 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Looking at the NTSB accident report for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge I note that two recommendations relate to reviewing existing bridges and establishing standards for protection systems.

The study regarding establishing standards is available from the Federal Highway Administration. There is also another related report here.

In discussing pier protection it notes: Because of the tremendous momentum achieved by modern ocean-going vessels even while traveling at low speeds in inland channels, it may be extremely difficult to retrofit some existing bridge piers with protective systems which can successfully withstand the anticipated impact loadings

I haven’t been able to find the other study recommended in the report that would have reviewed existing bridges to determine the status of existing pier protection systems. It would he interesting to see how the FSK bridge was evaluated in 1982-1983 in the aftermath of the Sunshine Skyway disaster. Maybe someone here with better research skills can find it.
posted by interogative mood at 5:24 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I'm late to this conversation, but earlier today I did a back-of-the-napkin calculation and worked out that the entire 8500 feet of the 4 lane bridge (which includes the approaches and everything) probably weighed about 25,000-35,000 tons (the main span being some fraction of that). With the ship weighing more than 100,000 tons, that means that the ship likely weighed several times the weight of the entire bridge. This would be like the Chrysler building being struck by the Empire State building at a single corner of its foundation. I find it extraordinary how many people, even here, suddenly become engineers and marine safety experts in the wake of a terrible event like this, and immediately start pointing fingers at infrastructure neglect, or state how this would have been avoided had there been a few tug boats tending to it, or how all significant infrastructure engineering should multiply its safety factors. This is a terrible event that could have been so much worse than it actually turned out. Does every newsworthy event need to be swept into a polarizing political storm before barely anything is known about it?
posted by WaylandSmith at 6:25 PM on March 26 [106 favorites]


That being said, I'm confident that as the analysis is done here, we'll find a McKinsey or Deloitte consultant at the root of all this -- whether they instructed Maersk to remove a redundant power system because it was overkill given the company's risk exposure ...

I think it's pretty damn plausible that consultant-think could have contributed to this, but I don't think that Maersk would be able to tell the ship's owners which power systems to remove or keep, and it apparently didn't have any Maersk crew aboard. Maersk may still bear some share of the responsibility for this, so I'm curious to see what we'll learn as this unfolds.
posted by maudlin at 6:25 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Someone interviewed in this AP article posited that the smoke is the diesel generator coming online. It also links to a study of 12 power failures (PDF) so we can all become experts on marine power systems before posting on social media tomorrow.
posted by credulous at 7:18 PM on March 26 [12 favorites]


Waylandsmith: flagging that as fantastic, well said
posted by Jarcat at 7:18 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


> before barely anything is known about it?

Clearly this span between the main piers was engineered to last ~50 years until somebody accidentally ran into one of the piers and brought the whole thing down, since the 1960s design didn't leave much margin for error for today's big-ass cargo ships.

This is not a critique of the engineers and politicians of the 1960s and 70s, it is a lesson for today. It shouldn't take daily miracle-working to prevent a billion-dollar accident (simply because someday the Swiss cheese is going to get you when you try).

This picture of the similarly low-budget Richmond Bay Bridge does show the critical footings near the shipping lanes underneath do have some degree of hardening at least.
posted by torokunai at 7:24 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I think it's pretty damn plausible that consultant-think could have contributed to this, but I don't think that Maersk would be able to tell the ship's owners which power systems to remove or keep, and it apparently didn't have any Maersk crew aboard.

I'm not saying anything other than that it's hard to tell the difference, but it's hard to tell the difference between Maersk actually chartering a ship from another company that's a real company and shell-company bullshit with no other purpose than to avoid responsibility for things.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:36 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


as engineers are saying around the web, "there is no bridge support ever built anywhere that can withstand a large container ship collision. nor will there ever be; you can't beat physics."
posted by j_curiouser at 7:37 PM on March 26 [23 favorites]


that's why you don't put a pier there in the first place.
posted by torokunai at 7:44 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


entire 8500 feet of the 4 lane bridge ... probably weighed about 25,000-35,000 tons ... With the ship weighing more than 100,000 tons

WaylandSmith thanks for the fascinating perspective!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:22 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I understand that seventies engineers could not have anticipated ships of this size. But once they became that big, someone should have taken a look at the shipping lanes and either hardened crucial infrastructure or not allowed ships of that size to use the port.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:37 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


OR nobody ever thought of this happening in any way that was serious enough to require the spending or port-denial that you're suggesting.

It's easy to sit and say "someone should have planned for this" but that's rarely being done.
posted by hippybear at 8:43 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


There's also the Pensacola Bay Bridge, which suffered a barge strike in 1989 (I once saw a vintage T-shirt commemorating the occasion, and often regret not buying it) and also during Hurricane Sally in 2020 suffered a barge strike and crane collapse, both bridge-construction-related. It was closed for almost a year, and suddenly workers had to drive an extra hour to get to work, and businesses on the bridge route were suddenly without customers. Similarly, Dundalk commuters are likely doing some serious napkin math tonight.
posted by credulous at 8:43 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


torokunai:

that's why you don't put a pier there in the first place.

You know that the math & physics constraints dictate a lot of things about where they put the piers, right?
posted by adrienneleigh at 9:01 PM on March 26 [8 favorites]


there is no bridge support ever built anywhere that can withstand a large container ship collision. nor will there ever be; you can't beat physics

You absolutely can make a bridge pier withstand damn near anything you want, certainly a slow moving cargo vessel. You "just" put some land around it and let gravity and friction do the work of stopping or redirecting errant ships.

Of course, that is often neither financially or environmentally feasible or operationally practical depending on the depth of water, the current at the site, the amount of space available, and a bunch of other considerations I haven't thought of. Plus, there are times when the solution may be worse than the problem. Having a ship run aground is not without risk, even when the ground in question is designed for the task and is intended to do as little damage to the ship as possible. And come to think of it, you run the risk of having a ship drifting downstream out of control and damaged if the grounding doesn't fully stop the vessel. But you did save the bridge, so yay?

Sometimes in life trade-offs must be made. Even ones that put lives at risk. Perhaps letting the experts make those decisions is best. Not that it isn't worth examining those decisions and recalibrating if necessary after an event like this. You can't do that until all the information is available, though, not if the goal is to make better decisions going forward rather than gnashing our teeth and reflexively blaming it, whatever it is, on whatever bugaboo we have about modern society.

It's definitely more satisfying to get up on a hobby horse than it is to think "there but for the grace of God go I" and wonder if this kind of thing is just one on the long list of things we have to accept as the price of civilization.
posted by wierdo at 9:08 PM on March 26 [7 favorites]


You know that the math & physics constraints dictate a lot of things about where they put the piers, right?

My point here is that the replacement bridge won't have its footings so near the navigation channel (ie. a longer span will be engineered). Do you see anything wrong with this picture??
posted by torokunai at 9:31 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


It's easy to sit and say "someone should have planned for this" but that's rarely being done.

That's... my point.

If you're not planning for 'ship goes out of the lane by the bridge', you're not planning.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:45 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]




This ship was commissioned to Maersk specs and has always been under Maersk charter. Which company technically owns it, and which company the crew contract with, is definitely shell-company bullshit. More to the point, Maersk sets its routes and schedule.

Container shipping prices recently fell hard from their Covid heights and Maersk in particular has been doing some frantic manoeuvring to optimise/cut costs by switching ports in the Baltic. I wouldn't be surprised in particular if the time required for proper maintenance in port was cut because a ship that's standing still is a ship that's not making money. Guess we'll find out in a year or two.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:44 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I find it extraordinary how many people, even here, suddenly become engineers and marine safety experts in the wake of a terrible event like this...

If experts allow this, then FUCK EXPERTS. Did safety experts allow East Palestine? Yes, they did. Fuck them too.

We need experts who don't work for the companies, but work for the general public.
posted by netowl at 10:46 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


this website loves to whine about engineer’s disease, but when it comes to listening to actual engineers…lol.
posted by hototogisu at 10:52 PM on March 26 [49 favorites]


Compared to dolphins here in the NL we have something else called a remmingwerk. (I could only find dutch sources.)
Literally it means 'braking structure'. It's to protect the bridge or lock. Here's an aerial photo that shows them clearly.
posted by jouke at 11:44 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that pilots offer advice to captains, who remain formally in command of their ships.

Aren't modern ships this size steered by a helmsman, not the captain?
posted by Dysk at 11:57 PM on March 26


Many structural engineers have pointed out that while no pier can withstand a direct hit from a container ship there are structures that are typical built around piers to protect them. Just as a human being is unlikely to survive a serious car crash without crumple zones, seat belts, air bags, etc.
posted by interogative mood at 12:30 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


AdamCSnider: Personally, I’m blaming the Mothman. Isn’t it his responsibility to warn us of bridge collapses?

You’d be better off looking into this Francis Scott Key fellow. One hit wonder looking to boost his career or get people to pick up his new mixtape? You be the judge.
posted by dr_dank at 12:30 AM on March 27 [8 favorites]


A local news report featuring a professor of structural engineering at Drexel and the CEO of the Delaware river port authority talking about these structures and questioning why they were not in place in Baltimore.
posted by interogative mood at 12:40 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


It's just a brief mention, but the WSJ speculates contaminated fuel may have played a role in the engine shutdown:

Blackouts at sea aren’t common, but they do happen and have long been considered a major accident risk for ships.

One cause is contaminated fuel that can create problems with the ship’s main power generators, said Fotis Pagoulatos, a naval architect in Athens. A complete blackout could result in a ship losing propulsion, he said. Smaller generators can kick in but they can’t carry all the functions of the main ones and take time to fire up.


This Reuters article from July, Marine fuel contamination hits US Gulf Coast shippers, has a bit more about a recent example, with more detail from Maritime Executive:

Fuel Contamination Hits 11 Ships Bunkered in Houston

A fuel contamination issue is being traced to a single bunker supplier in the Houston area, according to VPS, a bunker fuel testing and advisory company. Eleven vessels using the fuel have reported loss of power and subsequent loss of propulsion while at sea...

One customer told VPS that the first sign of problems included a failure of the fuel pump and fuel injectors of the auxiliary engines. All three auxiliary engines subsequently faced the same issues and were unable to produce the required power resulting in a complete blackout and loss of propulsion...

VPS, Maritec, and Lloyd’s warned of a similar incident in March 2022 with the bunkering of HSFO in Singapore. Over 200 ships were impacted...


Pure speculation at this point with regard to Baltimore, but it's apparently a known issue.
posted by mediareport at 12:48 AM on March 27 [14 favorites]


...the ship likely weighed several times the weight of the entire bridge

Some of the photos make this abundantly clear.
posted by Lanark at 2:12 AM on March 27 [11 favorites]


building a container ship proof bridge may not be practical, but getting the maintenance workers to a safe place while ships pass under the bridge probably is?
posted by onya at 2:35 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


getting the maintenance workers to a safe place while ships pass under the bridge probably is?


Are you proposing closing these bridges every time a ship passes underneath? not sure that is entirely practical
posted by el_presidente at 3:14 AM on March 27 [9 favorites]


building a container ship proof bridge may not be practical, but getting the maintenance workers to a safe place while ships pass under the bridge probably is?

It seems a lot more practical to build barriers to protect the bridge than to evacuate it every time a ship passes underneath which I imagine happens multiple times in a given day.
posted by drstrangelove at 3:16 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]


The people who put that up were building for the future . . . 4200' span!

They built it that way due to the depth of the channel.
posted by drstrangelove at 3:21 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]


The 1200 foot main span was more than adequate for big ships to get under. The port on Long Beach had a similar design of bridge the gerald Desmond with a much smaller main span, although it has been replaced with a taller bridge.

I think the fuel contamination theory makes a ton of sense. This wasn’t an old rickety boat, and newer engines could actually be more sensitive to fuel quality.

Maybe an earlier indication that the ship was havin troubles as well as an evacuation procedure for the bridge workers could have helped,

No bridge is going to be wide enough or strong enough for a loaded container ship moving at speed without controls.

Given time ane budget constraints for replacements I’d bet they will give strong consideration to rebuilding on the same piers.
Some better energy reducing barriers could be used but there is a lot more energy in a ship with 10,000 containers moving at 8 knots compared to a barge going through a lock slowly with maybe 100
posted by CostcoCultist at 6:34 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Comments like "they shouldn't let ships under that bridge" make my head spin with the complete absurdity of the statement. Things like ports and bridges are pieces of infrastructure that take decades to create. Ports aren't chosen arbitrarily - they are naturally occurring geographic features that were chosen precisely because they were well-suited for large volumes of maritime traffic. You can't just, like, move a port! And bridges are huge and expensive! Also, not indestructible. There's a reason the infrastructure bill was such a big deal.

If you think there was "one weird trick" that could have prevented this disaster, it means you don't know anything at all about how this event unfolded. And if you think that directing maritime traffic in and out of Baltimore is too complicated, that's because you don't work in shipping and don't have the requisite expertise! Everything about commercial logistics is complicated. Flying a commercial jetliner is complicated! The internet is complicated! Nuclear reactors are complicated! Brain surgery is complicated! Should they all be abolished just because you don't understand them? I'll answer that for you: no.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:23 AM on March 27 [80 favorites]


Comments like "they shouldn't let ships under that bridge" make my head spin with the complete absurdity of the statement.

Yeah, this is equivalent to saying that the Port of Baltimore shouldn't exist, the only access was under that bridge. Which I guess I can imagine some people in this thread saying...but probably not people who have anything to do with Baltimore (or shipping on the east coast for that matter). Here's a useful article about the ripple effects including of this port being inaccessible.
posted by advil at 7:38 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]


eponysterical, grumpybear! (and well said, too!)
posted by hydra77 at 7:38 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


For that matter, the more accurate ridiculous thing to say would be that they shouldn't have built a bridge over the Patapsco since ships go through there. The port was there long, long before anyone thought of building the bridge.
posted by Naberius at 7:44 AM on March 27 [10 favorites]


Despite the obvious fact that construction of a bridge in the 1970s didn't/couldn't anticipate the immense size of today's cargo ships, it appears that it was the ship, not the bridge, at fault here.
posted by Scout405 at 7:50 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


I'm seeing stories saying that the Mayday call by the captain enabled authorities to close the bridge and avert a larger loss of life, but they don't explain how this was able to be done in such a short amount of time. Is it simply that they have 24 hour staff at each end with gates that are used in normal times to close the bridge due to wind etc, or did they have to rush out to block traffic and turn people around?
posted by Flashman at 7:52 AM on March 27


There's nothing particularly special about the FSK bridge that made it vulnerable to an enormous tanker running into it. The same exact thing would happen to the Commodore Barry and Delaware Memorial bridges in and out of Philadelphia, and every single bridge in the East River in NYC. Hell, a wayward container ship could probably take out an entire skyscraper at the edge of Manhattan. Or even the Golden Gate Bridge!
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:54 AM on March 27 [6 favorites]


Flashman, this might help.
posted by cooker girl at 7:55 AM on March 27 [8 favorites]


how this was able to be done in such a short amount of time.
They had a crew repaving. If they had not, I imagine that they wouldn't have been able to close it in time. But also there is a spot to pull over if you need an escort across, so they bridge may well be staffed to handle a quick closing.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:56 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


And the members of that crew are the ones who are the missing presumed dead, so that's an especially heavy kick in the teeth.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:18 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Looks like the ship recently had propulsion maintenance issues. The article also outlines the investigation process, it does sound like a year's a decent span to expect an incident report.

And in more interesting things from gCaptain, the economic effect would have been much worse a few years ago. US ports are not my bailiwick but it sounds like the one piece of US infrastructure that's expanded recently. I can tell you that port investments are hella complex (you need to simultaneously expand each stage of the cargo's route, from the land approach through various stages in the port, through loading and then the sea approach, with fun geological surprises on the sea floor) and ruinously expensive.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 8:31 AM on March 27 [5 favorites]



Yeah, this is equivalent to saying that the Port of Baltimore shouldn't exist, the only access was under that bridge.


It's the bridge itself that should be debated.

Baltimore was functioning as a city before it was built. It will function as a city tomorrow.
It will keep functioning if the bridge is never rebuilt. Automotive traffic is much more easily rerouted and reoriented, and since the port is important, it would be a sensible decision to leave this route as is.
posted by ocschwar at 8:56 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Automotive traffic is much more easily rerouted and reoriented

That is very much not true for hazardous goods, which is precisely what that bridge was used to transport.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:13 AM on March 27 [14 favorites]


...the ship likely weighed several times the weight of the entire bridge

Some of the photos make this abundantly clear.


Yeah but to be fair the bridge looked a lot bigger before it fell down.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:20 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]


I'm thrilled to learn about fuel contamination risks, mediareport. It'd rock if somehow the shale oil industry caused this, but..

Appears fuel contamination comes from excessive water, microbes, and even 0.001% biodiesel-like compounts in jet fuel. It's likely the more complex shale refining processes wind up producing something fine, albeit at significant energy costs.

I'm surprised dock & airport worker strikes do not begin by dumping some well-chosen bacteria or whatever into the fuel tanks. Andreas Malm should add fuel contamination to any future edition of his book too.

I know enviromentalists have often dumped sugar into gas tanks of construction equipment, and gas caps have locks to stop random kids doing this, but someone could do serious chemistry optimizing the damage, defeating the detection, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:22 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


"The company that chartered the cargo ship that destroyed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore was recently sanctioned by regulators for blocking its employees from directly reporting safety concerns to the U.S. Coast Guard — in violation of a seaman whistleblower protection law, according to regulatory filings reviewed by The Lever."
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:49 AM on March 27 [14 favorites]


I'd also rock if this happened because whistleblower protection laws were never really enforced.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:06 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Appears fuel contamination comes from excessive water, microbes, and even 0.001% biodiesel-like compounts in jet fuel.

Well, this is waaaay outside my bailiwick, but the first site you link discusses just a few possible contaminants (and seems at first glance to focus on remediating microorganism contamination). The Maritime Executive article I linked discusses the contamination episode in July in ways that make me think it wasn't that sort of thing at all:

VPS conducted testing reporting that it detected the presence of Dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) and associated isomers at significantly high levels in VLSFO bunker fuel deliveries in Houston. According to the company, these chemical contaminants which were detected using Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer analytical methodologies, are unsaturated chemical compounds that can polymerize and oxidize under certain conditions. They said that if these compounds start polymerizing, the fuel begins to exhibit a level of stickiness and become more viscous, making it difficult for moving components, such as fuel pump plungers and the fuel injector spindles to move freely. These effects cause damage to the fuel injection system. Over time excessive sludge formation is likely to be experienced.

And their 2022 article about the Singapore fuel contamination that affected ~200 ships says in that case it was chlorinated hydrocarbons:

The MPA confirmed the reports from several testing services that the fuel in question was High Sulfur Fuel Oil (HSFO) that was contaminated with high concentration levels of Chlorinated Organic Compounds (COC).

Again, this is not my area so feel free to correct me if those 2 contaminants are indeed similar to the water, microbes or biodiesel-like compounds in jet fuel you mentioned.
posted by mediareport at 10:34 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, a lot of the discourse about this tragedy sounds like "why don't they build the entire plane out of the material they use for the black box?"
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:11 AM on March 27 [26 favorites]




From CNN:

Dali cargo ship suffered "severe electrical problem" while docked for 2 days before crash, port worker says

The Dali cargo ship was docked in Baltimore days prior to the crash and was facing a “severe electrical problem,” a port worker told CNN’s UK affiliate, ITN.

Julie Mitchell, co-administrator of Container Royalty, a company that keeps track of the tonnage on container ships that comes into Baltimore, said the ship was in the port for two days.

“And those two days, they were having serious power outages… they had a severe electrical problem,” Mitchell said. “It was total power failure, loss of engine power, everything.”
She said refrigerated boxes kept tripping breakers, while mechanics had generators running while they were trying to fix the ship. CNN is unable to independently verify the information.

posted by grumpybear69 at 12:55 PM on March 27 [9 favorites]


Hi, I drive ships some of the time. Pretty small ships, like a thousandth the size of this ship, but still big enough to have at least some idea what I'm talking about.

In thousands of sea miles on multiple ships over many years, I have experienced loss of propulsion within the waters of a port a handful of times. It's a serious matter when it happens, but it is something that happens, and it does not necessarily mean that anything was done wrong. A ship's propulsion system has a great many moving, wearing parts, and at some point some of them are going to fail, for all the same reasons that sometimes your car is going to break down, even if you have done all the required servicing at all the required intervals.

None of the failures I've experienced even directly involved a ship's engine itself; successful propulsion depends on a lot of auxiliary systems too. In one case, it was a problem upstream in the fuel supply. A second incident involved a control cable that jammed. A third event involved a failure in some completely unrelated plumbing that started flooding into the engine room. There are lots of ways for things to to go wrong and leave you at least briefly without usable power, even with various kinds of redundancy in the ship's systems.

And if things are going to go wrong, it's usually in port. Because underway, at sea, everything is constant: speeds and pressures are steady, machinery that is working tends to keep working. But during arrival and departure everything is changing. The ship is maneuvering, so speeds are going from low to high and back. On departure, systems may have been overhauled just before and are being run up to prolonged full power for the first time since. On arrival, systems that have been running steadily for days are suddenly being subjected to new load patterns. If something is primed to go wrong, in port is usually where it's going to happen.

We may find out, whenever the investigation into this disaster finally concludes, that this ship's machinery was not maintained as well as it could have been, or that aspects about how the ship was operated contributed to the power failure. But it would be foolish to treat that as the only cause here. Machinery will always be capable of failure. We have to assume that ships will break down, and operate them accordingly.

When something like this does happen, there are two things for the crew to do: first, do whatever is necessary to bring power back online as quickly as possible, and second, communicate with whoever needs to know. Whatever else happened, this crew did both of those things. Based on how long the lights went out, they had power back initially within a minute. That is fast. And then a few moments later it failed again. This time, they had power back within forty seconds! But by then it was already too late, and that was all it took.

Meanwhile, they had alerted the authorities and traffic onto the bridge was already being stopped -- within four minutes, at 1:30am in the morning. But even that couldn't save the work crew who just happened to be resurfacing the bridge that night.

This was an immensely unlucky event, which required a great many things to go wrong at once. A failure happened, at the very worst possible moment, and it happened twice, on a night on which stopping the traffic wasn't sufficient to prevent fatalities from the resulting collapse.

In my view, the only way that this could have been completely prevented is to not have this ship passing this bridge in the first place.

Even if you had tugs on standby, would they have been able to deflect it in time? I'm not sure; maybe, but perhaps not certainly. And where do you let it go? The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is another 16.5 nautical miles further out. If you wanted to be certain to protect that too, you'd need all those tugs to spend multiple hours following the ship out and then coming back to Baltimore. Or a separate fleet of tugs based out of Annapolis. And then if you make that the policy, multiply that by all the bridges in front of all the ports in the country, or the world. That's a lot of tugs, a lot of fuel, and a lot of sea miles, and sometimes some of them are going to have accidents. How many bridge collapses would you prevent? Have you made things safer overall?

Could you have built the bridge to withstand this? Hell no, as amply addressed above, not without an entire artificial island around each pier of the bridge, and by that point it would surely make more sense to tunnel under the Patapsco at this point instead of building a bridge.

Unless the plan is to shut down the entire port of Baltimore, or restrict it to much smaller ships, I expect that's what will eventually happen.
posted by automatronic at 1:00 PM on March 27 [65 favorites]


From a port construction point of view, putting anything under the main access way of a busy port limits further dredging and expansion to accommodate still-bigger ships. Świnoujście and Szczecin in Poland managed to shoot themselves in the foot that way by allowing the Nord Stream pipeline to be laid at 17.5 metres deep straight across the approach to the ports. Considering you need extra clearances, it limits the depth of ships even at the new planned deepwater container terminal to less than the maximum Baltic size.

This is less of a concern for shipping to Baltimore from nothern Europe (Baltic limit) or Asia (the Panama Canal is even shallower), but I suspect it'll impact what is rebuild, as well as the other limits of a tunnel such as transporting hazardous materials, fire safety in the age of popular electric vehicles, and adequate ventilation in a deep and long tunnel. There are longer and deeper ones mind you.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:24 PM on March 27 [5 favorites]


With the amount of earth they'd have to dig out to build a tunnel, they could build quite a few islands protecting bridge piers. Probably! Not that kind of engineer tho.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:27 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


. for the workers who likely perished, without enough advance warning (their cars were on the bridge!)

I can't even begin to imagine the mess this will create for traffic in the immediate area, but really, the entire Northeast.

I know this bridge, it was the only way into Baltimore when I went as a child, and it's unbelievable how it went down.
posted by honey badger at 1:30 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


“And those two days, they were having serious power outages… they had a severe electrical problem,” Mitchell said. “It was total power failure, loss of engine power, everything.”

Oh god - if this is true, they should never have tried to leave before sorting that out.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 1:38 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


bunker fuel… Pure speculation at this point with regard to Baltimore, but it's apparently a known issue.
From what I understand, low grade bunker fuel (that requires heating to use) cannot be used within 200nm of any North American coast. It requires either "marine diesel" (called Bunker A) or ULSFO (Ultra Low Sulfur Fuel Oil).
posted by WaylandSmith at 2:07 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


If they do rebuild the bridge, hopefully it is a more modern design with a longer central span that leaves a lot more space for ships to pass underneath. You can't make them strong enough to withstand a hit like this, but you can make them less likely to get hit in the event of a loss of ship control.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:08 PM on March 27


With the amount of earth they'd have to dig out to build a tunnel, they could build quite a few islands protecting bridge piers. Probably! Not that kind of engineer tho.

I'm surprised they didn't have islands around the piers, if the piers are the primary thing holding the bridge up. It's almost guaranteed ships will run into them, given a long enough timespan.

Also, the Port of Baltimore is just inside the top 20 in terms of overall tonnage, about 1/10 the size of the biggest US ports, so this is bad, but not insurmountable. I have no idea if they can move cargo that is normally offloaded in Baltimore to some other port though.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:30 PM on March 27


This was an immensely unlucky event, which required a great many things to go wrong at once. A failure happened, at the very worst possible moment, and it happened twice, on a night on which stopping the traffic wasn't sufficient to prevent fatalities from the resulting collapse.

It's probably too early to say whether this was extremely unlucky or just extremely arrogant. And we probably won't know which for a year.

Also, the Port of Baltimore is just inside the top 20 in terms of overall tonnage, about 1/10 the size of the biggest US ports, so this is bad, but not insurmountable. I

This assumes the other 19 have slack capacity, in an industry that treats slack like toxic waste. Or, as the Flexport blog suggests, whether the rest of the adjacent infrastructure can accomodate a rapid 10% increase in demand.
posted by pwnguin at 2:41 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that Baltimore isn’t a big port in terms of volume but they have some specialized facilities for handling certain types of ships and cargo that will not be easy to replace — specifically roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) ships that handle lots of automobile imports and some types of bulk cargo ships that move stuff like coal and grain. They also have a major LNG export terminal but traffic to that is unaffected by this bridge,
posted by interogative mood at 3:19 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Here is an interesting article about bridge protection systems ("dolphins") that specifically discusses what officials thought about the Key Bridge's protection in the wake of a similar tragedy:
A Baltimore Sun article that appeared the day after the Tampa disaster in 1980 quoted the director of engineers for what was then called the state Toll Facilities Administration as saying the Key Bridge had a type of “concrete dolphins” at the time.

The story cites the official, Mike Snyder, saying they were intended to deflect ships from the piers, and even if they failed to deflect a vessel entirely, they might absorb enough of a ship’s force that a collision “would be a glancing blow by the time [the ship] hit the pier.”

But, he noted, the bridge could not withstand a direct impact by a large freighter and that, as of 1980, installing such a system would not be economically feasible.

“Whatever unit got struck, that section would be knocked down,” he said.

Three months later, in August 1980, a freighter that lost power chipped a concrete piling on the bridge, according to a Sun article at the time. The piling was partially protected by a “concrete and wood collar,” but the accident did damage estimated at $500,000.
posted by flug at 4:07 PM on March 27 [7 favorites]


From the Flexport blog link:

“To put it into context, if the cargo originally destined for the Port of Baltimore is redistributed exclusively among the Ports of NY/NJ and Norfolk, throughput at these ports would increase by just under 10%. The moderate volume increase is less of a concern, as the bigger question is whether the truck and rail systems can quickly adapt to handle this sudden 10% surge in cargo volume.”

Sounds like an ideal time for a massive overland transport strike.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:28 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


So there were early reports of a lot of cars in the water but so far I'm only hearing about the construction workers actually standing on the bridge being listed as fatalities? So am I to infer that the cops got the bridge shut down to the point that there were ZERO cars driving on it when it went down, or all those drivers were rescued?

I want to say, that is completely remarkable.
posted by hippybear at 4:39 PM on March 27


So there were early reports of a lot of cars in the water but so far I'm only hearing about the construction workers actually standing on the bridge being listed as fatalities? So am I to infer that the cops got the bridge shut down to the point that there were ZERO cars driving on it when it went down, or all those drivers were rescued?

I want to say, that is completely remarkable.


They stopped traffic in the nick of time. If you watch the collapse video, you can see vehicles (mostly trucks) crossing the bridge in the minutes leading up to the collapse. The last truck exited the bridge seconds before the collapse.
posted by Preserver at 4:47 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


I feel for those guys and their families so much. I have nearly drowned three times in my life, and it is horrible. They probably were trying to get off the bridge and knew they were in danger. It is an awful fate.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:49 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


They recovered two bodies from a truck today. Judging from the difficulty, it may have been a commercial vehicle.

Baltimore bridge latest: Two bodies recovered from vehicle underwater - BBC News
Divers found the two victims' bodies about 10:00 EST (15:00 GMT), Maryland police say.

They used airbags around the vehicles, and tried to tow it toward shore, but discovered it would be impossible to bring the vehicle all the way up.

So they removed the bodies from the truck and brought them to the medical examiner.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:57 PM on March 27


.
posted by Gorgik at 6:23 PM on March 27


I want to say, that is completely remarkable.

It is impressive but it really helps when the Maryland Transportation Authority / Police Station is the last exit before the bridge. Send one officer to block traffic from literally in front of your building, the Hellcat to sprint across to the highway turnaround 2 miles away, while a third officer reprograms the tollway signage to scream "BRIDGE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE" as aggressively as one can.

And maybe blast truckers with a notice as well.
posted by pwnguin at 6:35 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


That may or may not stop idiots.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:35 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


If they were using blast truckers we would have seen explosions on the video.
posted by hippybear at 7:45 PM on March 27


And to those wondering whether or not the Key Bridge has "dolphins" to protect it, looking at the Google Earth time lapse for the area, I can clearly see the dolphins from the late 1990s through to the present. They are also visible e.g. here as circular structures directly on each side of each bridge support. It looks like there is shallow stuff between there & the bridge support itself, too (not 100% certain about this, however).

Two points:

- This would have protected against a straight-on collision. The fact that this ship came in a closer to a 45 degree angle allowed it to completely bypass the dolphins.

- "Why not just make the dolphins wider and larger to protect from all angles?" you will ask. Take a look at the dolphin structure and now extend it into a circle all the way around each of the two bridge piers on each side of the shipping channel.

What you will notice is that extending the protective structures in this way so as to provide good protection from all angles leaves the shipping channel at roughly 10 feet wide.

So I don't have all the solutions here by any means, but it is well when criticizing with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, to remember that you're not the smartest person in the nor the first person to think about improving the safety of these structures. People who deal with these things in real life have to deal with all the realities of real life from budgets to physical space available and every other kind of real-word constraint.

Maybe this could have been done better even given the constraints, and if it can I'm sure everyone will be interested to know what those improved practices should be.

But this looks like incident happened to strike the bridge at an exact angle and way that just happened to exactly fit a vulnerability of the bridge design.

Replacing the bridge is going to take probably a couple of years at least and on the order of a billion dollars. It's not the type of thing that is going to be replaced at the drop of a hat just because it is not practically perfect in every possible way.

Finally, everyone seems to be yip-yapping about how horribly old this bridge is at 50 years. Look, at the cost and importance of these projects they should have an expected lifetime of something like 100 years. Certainly 75 at very minimum. The Brooklyn Bridge just for example was built in 1884. It can be done. The mindset "Just rip it down and build something else" is part of the problem, not the solution.
posted by flug at 1:04 AM on March 28 [14 favorites]


Finally, everyone seems to be yip-yapping about how horribly old this bridge is at 50 years.

Mostly as a way to explain the very narrow span between piers, relative to modern ships. I don't think anyone wants infrastructure to not be close to permanent, but it does also need to be got for purpose in a modern context. As ships grew, the safety margins on the bridge were eroded. At what point is it too hairy? Do we wait until there is a disaster before we address it?
posted by Dysk at 2:34 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


The Stopgap article FFO or SBM? A Shipping Primer has a lucid account of the basic issues.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:38 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


US maritime union sounds alarm over global shipping standards. The Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association points the finger at corporate profiteering putting crews into more situations where outcomes like this are inevitable, arguing the marine shipping industry is one of the worst offenders, especially when operated from outside of US regulations.
posted by biogeo at 8:46 AM on March 28 [11 favorites]


Obviously it is still early days and we will know more once the investigators complete their report. But it really seems like focusing on the engineering of the bridge is paying attention to the wrong thing. Like if a drunk driver plows into your living room, the problem wasn't that your house wasn't built sturdily enough.

The problem here fundamentally wasn't the engineering of the bridge, it was (probably) with management and safety culture at Maersk forcing the crew to attempt to pilot a crippled vessel through a busy waterway with a narrow margin for error, and (probably) with a regulatory environment in US ports that permits oversized container ships into ports, exchanging safety margins for profit margins.
posted by biogeo at 9:01 AM on March 28 [9 favorites]


Like if a drunk driver plows into your living room, the problem wasn't that your house wasn't built sturdily enough.

I guess we just have to disagree, because if the drunk is going fast enough to really damage your house, the engineering design and the location of infrastructure in relation to your house is wrong. People run into buildings all the time [ie: many people, every day], mostly not bad enough to completely destroy them.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:37 AM on March 28


The problem here fundamentally wasn't the engineering of the bridge, it was (probably) with management and safety culture at Maersk forcing the crew to attempt to pilot a crippled vessel through a busy waterway with a narrow margin for error, and (probably) with a regulatory environment in US ports that permits oversized container ships into ports, exchanging safety margins for profit margins.

Saying the ships are too big is pretty similar to saying the bridge is too small, isn't it? Part of the issue is that the safety margins between the bridge and ships is/was insufficient, at least for operating without tugs.
posted by Dysk at 9:39 AM on March 28


When this bridge was built 50 years ago, ships the size of the one that just destroyed it had never been imagined about being imagined.

It can be argued that ships of this size have no business passing under bridges like that. But really saying this is something that should have been engineered more safely 50 years ago when ships of this magnitude were not even the sparkle in some shipping company's eye is like insisting the US should have been building out a network of car charging stations in the Seventies because obviously someday we would all need electric cars. Literally not being thought about at the time.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


"Well obviously we wouldn't need charging stations for EVs because electric cars of the future will have onboard nuclear power."
posted by pwnguin at 10:51 AM on March 28


USS Nimitz was commissioned in 1975 so ships the size of MV Dali did exist.
posted by leaper at 10:55 AM on March 28




Should they all be abolished just because you don't understand them? I'll answer that for you: no.

This correctly applies to SO many situations. We get it, the unknown and the horribly unexpected are scary. But they're not the majority and life cannot and should not be twisted through hoops trying to make them seem sensible to those that just do not understand the complexities involved. This won't stop the pearl-clutchers from their dramatics but it should serve to warn those nearby not to fall for the hype.
posted by wkearney99 at 1:25 PM on March 28 [5 favorites]


It's going to be an annoying clean-up process. I do hope the metal can be somehow reused, if not to rebuild this bridge but to do another project. I know it would need to be reforged, etc, and I don't know much about THAT process, so it might be precluded by materials requirements for such a project. But I hope we don't landfill all of that.
posted by hippybear at 1:26 PM on March 28


I have the day off so I rode my bike down to Ft. McHenry to get some exercise and see the wreckage. It was kind of somber at the fort. There were lots of photographers and people with binoculars and groups of people just milling about. Today is opening day for the Orioles so not very far from Fort McHenry was a completely different atmosphere. Hoping the debris can be cleared quickly and the ports can reopen. Dreading the next several years of commuting on 695.

I rarely use that bridge. I cross it maybe a couple times a year. Nonetheless, it's awe inspiring to see the scope of what humans can create and destroy.
posted by cloeburner at 1:29 PM on March 28 [5 favorites]


People run into buildings all the time

Sometimes it happens at 9 o'clock on a Saturday!
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:02 PM on March 28


But more to the point:

if the drunk is going fast enough to really damage your house, the engineering design and the location of infrastructure in relation to your house is wrong

By that logic, anyone who lives at an intersection of any road anywhere - because people who don't obey stop lights and stop signs can go really, really fast - has incorrectly engineered their house to withstand the force of a vehicle traveling at highway speeds. In fact, anyone who doesn't have an impenetrable fence in front of their house and also, just in case, a yard full of tire spikes, plus a moat, hasn't properly engineered their living conditions to mitigate this apparently reasonable threat.

The problem could not possibly be that we need to prevent drunkards from driving through integrated breathalyzers, more social stigma against drunk driving and better public transit.

Though I will say I am a fan of bollards everywhere.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:08 PM on March 28 [4 favorites]


Naeser's Law: You can make it foolproof, but you can’t make it damnfoolproof.
posted by delfin at 2:21 PM on March 28 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the earworm, grumpybear69... ;)
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:32 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


bollards

No, it's true!
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:33 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


"It's pronounced Billy Joe-L"
posted by Windopaene at 3:02 PM on March 28


Last-minute shift change may have saved construction worker from Key Bridge collapse
Moisés Díaz was scheduled to fill potholes on the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday morning, but a last-minute shift change may have saved his life.


Has more details on the crew on the bridge. Apparently workers were sitting in their personal cars waiting for concrete to dry.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:03 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


“In MAGA world, there are no accidents,” Noah Berlatsky, Public Notice, 27 March 2024
posted by ob1quixote at 7:36 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


“In MAGA world, there are no accidents,”

Yeah, repurposing of things seems to be en vogue these days. Putin's recasting of the ISIS-claimed-and-documented terrorist attack on the theater outside of Moscow as attached to Ukrained is an echo and rhyme of this same energy.
posted by hippybear at 8:00 PM on March 28


>But I hope we don't landfill all of that.

Japan infamously allegedly bought the scrap metal from NYC's Sixth Ave El when it was dismantled in the late 30s (to feed its war machine).

Google says that steel is the most recycled material in the US, at ~70%.
posted by torokunai at 8:17 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


And ironically, the Japanese are trying to buy US Steel!
posted by hippybear at 8:23 PM on March 28




I hope not, jail health care is extremely important and they are way behind it sounds and looks like. Surely new money could be found for the bridge.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:09 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Mod note: This thread, along with automatronic and WaylandSmith's excellent comments, have been added to the sidebar and Best Of blog!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:18 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]


Baltimore’s new $1 billion jail will be most expensive state-funded project in history by Ben Conarck & Pamela Wood.

Did you actually read the article?

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which has run the city’s jail system for decades, is pushing ahead with ambitious plans for the Baltimore Therapeutic Treatment Center — a sort of hybrid jail, hospital and mental health and substance use treatment facility for people facing criminal charges.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:32 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]


The Washington Post has some great reporting up on the bridge and how risk assessments had focused engineers on other risks to the bridge like terrorism and component failure. They didn’t think about a ship strike and didn’t even do a study about possible protective structure upgrades.

A key passage:
The Key Bridge was one of 17,468 “fracture critical” bridges in the United States, said Jennifer Homendy, chair of National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident. That means if one key piece fails, part or all of the bridge would likely collapse.
“The preferred method for building bridges today is that there is redundancy built in,” Homendy said this week. “This bridge did not have redundancy.”
Bridges are expected to have long service lives — 75-100 years or more. We wouldn’t build a bridge like this today; but we can’t afford shut down and rebuilt 17000 bridges immediately. So we have to do risk assessments and do what we can to control those risks. And after a failure it is impossible to know if those calls were right or wrong. Suppose they’d spent money on protective barriers and those had failed? Supose they had built the barriers but spent less time watching out for a Kentucky style metal fatigue failure or not stopped a truck bomb.
posted by interogative mood at 10:04 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


Sounds like more time and money being spent on ship maintenance would have been more fruitful. 'Cause having a 100,000+ ton ship lose power in the channel of a port is more easily fixed than a particular bridge, in this layperson's opinion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:07 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


They didn’t think about a ship strike

After 9/11 I would have thought that would be on the list.
posted by Mitheral at 1:18 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Surely this bridge was built 30 years before 9/11?
posted by hippybear at 1:28 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I mean, this bridge was peculiarly vulnerable in that it was an erector set where one failure meant complete failure. We've seen bridges built that haven't entirely failed when they have failed, although any bridge failure is bad. The Bay Bridge deck collapse way back from the earthquake was terrible. But that bridge didn't fail entirely.
posted by hippybear at 1:29 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


We won’t know why the ship lost power for months if not years. Maintenance is one possibility, but could also have been fuel or operator error or failure of a component that was within its expected duty cycle by had a manufacturing defect.
posted by interogative mood at 1:42 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I mean, this bridge was peculiarly vulnerable in that it was an erector set where one failure meant complete failure

As noted in the Washington Post article above we don’t build bridges like this anymore but we have more than 17000 of them and it will he decades before they are all replaced.
posted by interogative mood at 1:44 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Sounds like more time and money being spent on ship maintenance would have been more fruitful.

There is no amount of money that can be spent on maintenance that will make it impossible for ships to break down. Ships break down all the time, just like cars break down all the time, just like every piece of machinery that humans have ever built.

If you have a bridge whose safety depends on a ship never breaking down at the wrong moment, and you put that bridge over a busy shipping channel with thousands of ships per year transiting through it, then over a timescale of enough decades a ship is eventually going to break down at the wrong moment and hit the bridge.

Blaming this on the particular ship that ended up being the one, even if that particular ship was ill maintained, is pointless. More money spent on ship maintenance would reduce the probabilities, but that just means that it will take more time before a ship eventually hits the bridge. It's still going to happen.

And in any case, the people deciding what crossings to build aren't the people deciding what money to spend on ship maintenance, so that's not a factor they can actually choose to improve.

Whereas there are other choices they could make that would actually eliminate that risk. If you build a tunnel there instead of a bridge then a ship can't hit it at all.

Or at least, if it does, you have bigger problems.
posted by automatronic at 1:49 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


but we have more than 17000 of them

I promise you a very very small number of those travel across major shipping channels and could have a container ship large enough to knock them down come into contact with their pillars.
posted by hippybear at 1:53 PM on March 29


If you build a tunnel there instead of a bridge then a ship can't hit it at all.

Two tunnels already in place. Not sure when they were built in relation to this bridge. My understanding is they can't handle the same traffic loads as the bridge, but I've never been to Baltimore.
posted by hippybear at 1:55 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Two tunnels already in place. Not sure when they were built in relation to this bridge. My understanding is they can't handle the same traffic loads as the bridge,

Harbor Tunnel was built in the fifties, Fort McHenry Tunnel was built in the eighties (Key Bridge was built in the seventies.) The biggest issue is Hazmat traffic can't go through the tunnels.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:21 PM on March 29 [7 favorites]


Someone asked upthread about cars in the water. IIRC, the report from the first morning was that sonar (or similar underwater) imaging had shown found several vehicles on the bottom (c. 50 ft of water?)... and a different report from someone who talked to someone at the construction company said the construction workers had their own vehicles there and might even have just sitting been in them. (Sounds like a later report confirmed the piece about at least some of the workers sitting in their cars.) So the vehicles seen on the sonar were likely those from the construction site, not from drivers transiting the bridge.

One of the eerie things in the video is you can watch two last sets of headlights go across, seemingly making it out of frame about 30 seconds before the impact. Today I read that apparently the police checked license plate cams of who had entered the bridge, so they could call them to see if they had made it safely across, to determine who they needed to look for in the water. - I read it here: The Baltimore Banner talked to one of those last drivers to make it across.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:47 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


Hippybear A search of the National Bridge Inventory suggests that there are over 2000 bridges with fracture critical elements over navigation channels.
posted by interogative mood at 3:26 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Surely this bridge was built 30 years before 9/11?

Of course, but just like we retrofit infrastructure for seismic I would have guessed 9/11 would have induced some reflection on how this bridge may be vulnerable to a moving object crashing into it and how to mitigate the effects. Even if the result of that reflection was do nothing because any effective options are too expensive.
posted by Mitheral at 4:50 PM on March 29


Majority of U.S. bridges lack impact protection. After the Key Bridge collapse, will anything change?
There are 4,207 bridges in the U.S. that allow ships to pass under them, according to the National Bridge Inventory. Of those, only 36% are described as having functional pier protection — and that included the Key Bridge.
Key Bridge NBI entry
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:57 PM on March 29


Hazmat trucks aren't allowed to use the tunnels, so it's not just about traffic loads.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:57 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I would have guessed 9/11 would have induced some reflection on how this bridge may be vulnerable to a moving object crashing into it

I don't think there was a giant move to strengthen structures against crash damage after 9/11 in any meaningful way. I could be wrong, and I would welcome any links that say that buildings or any other structures had been retrofitted to harden them against a crash attack following 2001.

That's such a strange thing to think.
posted by hippybear at 5:39 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I would welcome any links that say that buildings or any other structures had been retrofitted to harden them against a crash attack following 2001.

Bollards.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:48 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


oh you mean things that stop cars from driving places?

Yes, those would have stopped the airplanes or this ship.

Please try again more seriously.
posted by hippybear at 5:54 PM on March 29


Bollards : Buildings :: Dolphins : Bridges

How the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore should have been Protected
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:22 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


I would welcome any links that say that buildings or any other structures had been retrofitted to harden them against a crash attack following 2001.

Bollards.


No no, it's true!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:38 PM on March 29 [9 favorites]


I think there's some misunderstanding happening regarding Mitheral's comment Hippybear.

They seem to be saying it should have occurred to the panel doing the engineering assessments in the article linked by interrogative mood.

That was a post-9/11 assessment and you would imagine anyone evaluating key infrastructure might have "what's the vulnerability to a hijacked vehicle of some sort" on their list of things to evaluate.

So no, not an odd thing to think at all.
posted by jellywerker at 8:30 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


The Council of Tall Buildings has an article on post 9-11 changes to skyscraper design.

Keep in mind that the 9-11 collapse was the result of an extended out of control fire, not the collision itself. The casualties of the collapse were due to blocked stairwells preventing evacuation from upper floors, failure by lower floor occupants to evacuate immediately and communications issues among firefighters and other first responders resulting in many not getting the order to pull back.

The building code updates, along with retrofits have focused on making it easier to evacuate — elevator operation, signage, and stairwell changes along with changes to fire suppression/sprinkler systems.
posted by interogative mood at 1:19 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


oh you mean things that stop cars from driving places?

Yes, those would have stopped the airplanes or this ship.

Please try again more seriously.


Yes, cars with bombs in them. While bollards (no it's true) are sparsely used for the protection of pedestrians and cyclists, they were erected in front of pretty much every important building and piece of infrastructure in major US cities after 9/11. It is actually a pretty good example of how safety infrastructure preferences capital and government over the citizenry.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:34 PM on March 30 [9 favorites]


In my neighborhood, bollards are mostly used to prevent homeless people from parking their RVs that they are living in. Not due to terror attacks. No amount of bollards are going to stop that ship.
posted by Windopaene at 5:09 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Nautical bollards are called pylons and while they won't stop a container ship they will definitley mess up your pleasure craft.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:17 PM on March 30


A barge hit a bridge in Oklahoma temporarily stopping traffic on highway US-59. The bridge was inspected and reopened.
posted by interogative mood at 9:38 PM on March 30


This thread talks about the actions of the pilot, apparently the first thing they did when the power went out (and the radio too) was to grab their cell phone and call their dispatcher to get the bridge shutdown - whoever it is deserves a medal
posted by mbo at 11:27 PM on March 30 [6 favorites]


This guy, a veteran of the field, has been putting out pretty good info, has some explanations and comments on recent developments.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


apparently the first thing they did when the power went out (and the radio too) was to grab their cell phone and call their dispatcher to get the bridge shutdown

I'd be very surprised if that wasn't protocol when within a certain distance of a major piece of infrastructure.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:33 PM on March 31


First Boat Goes Through NEW Alt Channel Key Bridge Collapse

The new channel is shallow, but at least gives barges and small craft a way through.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:51 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


On the bollard thing note that many things can function as bollards without being large diameter metal poles. A lot of the seating, planters, fancy stairs, fountains, sunken courtyards, light poles, etc. are in place around buildings to prevent vehicles from driving into the building.

The upswing in installation got started before 9/11 in 1995 when that jack off blew up the Oklahoma Federal building.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


BBC article on the sailors stuck on the Dali (apologies if this was already covered upthread). Long story short, looks like they're stuck for a long while, well set with supplies but unable to leave.

Couldn't even imagine being stuck in that kind of situation.
posted by photo guy at 3:45 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Nautical bollards are called pylons

...a much better term IMO - calling these fixed marine objects which don't swim 'dolphins' seems dangerously ambiguous to me.
posted by Rash at 7:17 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]


In architectural terms, pylons and dolphins are different things, though? Pylons, if they exist, are part of the support structure of a bridge. Dolphins are separate structures, not attached to the bridge.
posted by adrienneleigh at 10:28 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Until I got used to the word, it felt inappropriately whimsical to see people saying "dolphins could have saved the bridge."

Those poor sailors. I wish they could go ashore, but I wouldn't blame them for being worried about their welcome. I have heard of sailors stranded in this position by the sudden bankruptcy of the vessel's owner, which was infuriating.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:04 AM on April 2


BBC article on the sailors stuck on the Dali (apologies if this was already covered upthread). Long story short, looks like they're stuck for a long while, well set with supplies but unable to leave.

I seem to recall that we had an earlier thread on MetaFilter which discussed the unique problem of sailors who are legally pressured into staying on ships that are derelict (or impounded, or owe money to port control, etc.) and are unable to leave the ship for months or even years without end.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:15 AM on April 2 [5 favorites]


WYPR (Balto. Public Radio) 14:53 audio: Local outreach to seafarers stuck in Port of Baltimore
Two local organizations have been checking on the mariners. We speak with Andrew Middleton, who directs the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Apostleship of the Sea, and Rev. Joshua Messick, an Episcopal priest and executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center.
People have been baking for the sailors.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:12 PM on April 2 [6 favorites]


My understanding is that the main reason they are currently still aboard is that the ship still needs a crew to keep to he ships systems operational as the bridge removal and refloating of the bow takes place. They will then sail the ship to whatever dock/port the NTSB will be using to do whatever remaining inspections they need to do and for repairs to start. That won’t be more than a few weeks which isn’t much different from the timespans they would typically be spending aboard a ship while it is underway.
posted by interogative mood at 3:14 PM on April 2


(everyone knows you must construct additional pylons)
posted by curious nu at 6:19 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


"My life for Auir"
posted by Windopaene at 11:03 AM on April 4


We have a (tentative) timeline for large ship traffic.
US Army Corps of Engineers develops tentative timeline to reopen Fort McHenry Channel following Key Bridge collapse
After detailed studies and engineering assessments by local, state and federal organizations, in collaboration with industry partners, USACE expects to open a limited access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, to the Port of Baltimore within the next four weeks — by the end of April. This channel would support one-way traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore for barge container service and some roll on/roll off vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to and from the port.

USACE engineers are aiming to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity.

posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:58 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


CBS NEWS: Unified Command says dive teams have recovered the body of Maynor Suazo-Sandoval from Key Bridge Wreckage
BALTIMORE -- The Unified Command confirmed dive teams recovered the body of a third construction worker at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge wreckage on Friday, April 5.

Dive teams recovered the body of 38-year-old Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval at approximately 10:30 Friday morning, according to an update released by the Unified Command.


Three are still missing.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:46 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


.
.
.
posted by Windopaene at 7:54 AM on April 6


“What caused the Power Failure : The Dali Incident”—Chief MAKOi, 8 April 2024
posted by ob1quixote at 5:27 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


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