The Port of Baltimore remains closed to ships: causes and consequences

The cases

Another major shipping accident occurred, resulting in the closure of the Port of Baltimore.

On the 26th of March, the Dali container ship, which left the port of Baltimore for Sri Lanka, has crashed into the landmark Francis Scott Key Bridge near the US city of Baltimore, destabilizing the structure and causing most of it to collapse. Several vehicles on the bridge at the time plunged into the water, one person dead and six missing. The port of Baltimore remains closed to ship traffic. 

The 300 meters long ship set off from Baltimore en route for Colombo, Sri Lanka. Its speed steadily increased and it maintained a straight route south east along the Patapsco River. Then, the data shows that the ship suddenly diverted from its straight course and began to slow down. All lights went out and smoke began emanating from the ship. Shortly afterwards it hit the bridge. 

The bridge was 2.6 km long and spanned the Patapsco River and Baltimore harbour, it was one of the main connecting roads of the city. There were several possible explanations for the accident: it could have been caused by engine failure, steering failure or generator blackout. Another less likely hypothesis is that it was a navigation error. There are ongoing major disruption to road traffic and the shipping activity in the port of Baltimore has also been severely affected, as well as significant problems for US importers and exporters, as the port represents one of the main American hubs for international cars, containers and cargo.