Port of Baltimore Operations Halted Following Bridge Collapse

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In a striking turn of events that unfolded in the early hours of March 26, 2024, a colossal container vessel, the Dali, measuring 948 feet in length, struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, causing the bridge’s collapse.

The bridge is a crucial infrastructure for the Port of Baltimore.

Bridge Collapse Stymies Vessel Traffic

The incident unfolded around 12:30 a.m. when Dali deviated from its course, striking a support pier of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The collision brought down a significant portion of the bridge, severely disrupting traffic and leading to reports of vehicles and individuals falling into the water.

A StreamTimeLive video captured the moments leading to the crash, showing the Dali momentarily losing power and going dark, followed by the appearance of smoke as power returns. The vessel then crashes directly into the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s support, leading to an immediate collapse. The cause of this event is currently under investigation as ongoing search and rescue operations are in place.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state emergency in Maryland. In response to the disaster, the Port of Maryland announced, “Vessel traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore is suspended until further notice.”

The port iterates the Port of Baltimore is not shut down as it is still processing trucks inside the terminals.

Impact on Cruise Operations

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a segment of Interstate 695 encircling Baltimore, spans the Patapsco River, which provides access to the Maryland Cruise Terminal. Although no cruises are currently in port, the incident raises concerns over the immediate impact on the cruise industry, with several cruises scheduled in the upcoming weeks facing potential alterations or delays.

Among the affected cruises are Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Legend and Royal Caribbean International’s Vision of the Seas. Both ships are currently homeported in Baltimore and on voyages scheduled to return to Baltimore.

Carnival Legend’s 7-night roundtrip Bahamas Cruise, en route to Bimini from a March 24 departure from Baltimore, is slated to return on March 31. Vision of the Seas, en route to St. Croix on a 12-night roundtrip Southern Caribbean Cruise from Baltimore, is slated to return on April 4.

As the incident is still in search and operations procedures, the Port of Baltimore cannot comment on future operations. Cruise lines will not change itineraries until they learn more from the port. Developments will follow in the coming days.

“This happened just a couple of hours ago, and to expect Carnival and me to say what is going to happen is quite impossible to answer,” said John Heald, brand ambassador and senior cruise director of Carnival Cruise Lines. “But for now, all of us at Carnival Cruise Line, and I am sure most of you reading this, have only thoughts for the families of those caught up in this horrific tragedy.”

The Port of Baltimore

The Port of Baltimore, nestled in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, boasts the region’s deepest harbor and stands as a pivotal maritime gateway in the U.S. Its location is within an overnight drive of one-third of the U.S.’ population.

A significant hub for cruise operations, the Port of Baltimore contributes more than $63 million to Maryland’s economy.

Currently, MarineTraffic data indicates Baltimore as the intended destination for approximately 40 vessels, which includes six cruise ships.

The cruise terminal hosts several cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line, offering year-round trips. Norwegian does not currently have a Baltimore route, returning in September for its fall-themed “Canada & New England” cruise, scheduled to depart from Baltimore on September 7.

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