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Port of Baltimore shipping channel fully reopens after bridge collapse in March

Workers remove wreckage caused by Dali

By Allen Cone
The Chesapeake 1000 floating crane equipped with “Gus” the hydraulic grabber, wrestle a 90-ton piece of residual wreckage on Friday from the Fort McHenry Federal Channel. Photo by Bobby Petty/U.S. Army
1 of 3 | The Chesapeake 1000 floating crane equipped with “Gus” the hydraulic grabber, wrestle a 90-ton piece of residual wreckage on Friday from the Fort McHenry Federal Channel. Photo by Bobby Petty/U.S. Army

June 10 (UPI) -- The Port of Baltimore's shipping channel, one of the busiest ports in the United States, is fully reopen, more than two months after a massive cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Fort McHenry Federal Channel was restored to its original operational dimensions for commercial maritime transit through the Port of Baltimore.

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"We've cleared the Fort McHenry Federal Channel for safe transit," Baltimore District Commander Col. Estee Pinchasin of the Army Corps of Engineers said in a statement. "Although the overarching goal to restore full operational capacity to the federal channel was successful, each day we thought of those who lost their lives, their families and the workers impacted by this tragic event."

"Not a day went by that we didn't think about all of them, and that kept us going," Pinchasin added.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked with the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving to clear the wreckage. Other main agencies involved in the work included the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority, Witt O'Brien's representing Synergy Mariner and Maryland State Police.

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Last week, crews cleared the final large steel truss that had been blocking the full channel, according to the Unified Command. They used concrete breakers, underwater surveys and using clamshell dredges to remove debris with clamshell dredges.

The Unified Command safely moved the M/V Dali on May 20.

The Dali struck the Key Bridge on March 26, triggering a collapse that killed six workers and affected entry into the port.

Workers removed 50,000 tons of bridge wreckage along with the 984-foot-long and 158-foot-wide container ship from the crash site.

The Unified Command led the response among about 56 federal, state and local agencies, represented by 1,587 responders. Also, about 500 specialists from around the world operated a fleet of 18 barges, 22 tugboats, 13 floating cranes, 10 excavators and four survey boats.

The National Transportation Safety Board said last month in a preliminary report the Dali experienced two power blackouts while docked, 10 hours before the collision.

After leaving the port in the early morning hours of March 26, it experienced two more blackouts close to 1:28 a.m., according to the NTSB.

Federal investigators are now focusing their probe on the ship's electrical system.

Vehicle traffic remains cut off likely until 2028.

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The bridge's reconstruction is expected to cost between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion.

President Joe Biden has pledged federal support for the project.

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