Investigation Launched Into Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse And Potential Role Of Contaminated Fuel

The NTSB will also attempt to secure recorders from the vessel to gain insights into what happened leading up to the crash. NTSB Chief Jennifer Homendy emphasized that this is a collaborative effort involving multiple entities.

Investigation Launched Into Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse And Potential Role Of Contaminated Fuel - SurgeZirc
Investigation Launched Into Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse And Potential Role Of Contaminated Fuel.

A safety investigation has been launched into the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland. The investigation will include an examination of whether contaminated fuel played a role in a cargo ship losing power and crashing into the bridge.

As of late Tuesday, investigators had not yet boarded the ship, a 948-foot-long container ship called the Dali, which remained stuck on a pillar of the collapsed bridge. It is expected that the vessel could remain in its current position for several weeks.

Rescue crews spent a significant portion of Tuesday searching for potential survivors, but officials have since announced that the operation has transitioned from a search and rescue mission to a recovery operation.

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The incident occurred when the lights on the Dali began to flicker about an hour into the ship’s journey early Tuesday. A harbor pilot and assistant reported power issues and a loss of propulsion before the collision, according to a briefing report from the Coast Guard.

An officer aboard the ship described the events leading up to the crash, stating, “The vessel went dead, no steering power and no electronics. One of the engines coughed and then stopped.

The smell of burned fuel was everywhere in the engine room and it was pitch black.” The officer further explained that the ship did not have enough time to drop anchors to stop drifting, and the crew members issued a mayday call before the crash occurred.

While blackouts at sea are uncommon, they do happen and have long been considered a significant accident risk for ships on the water. One potential cause of ship blackouts is contaminated fuel, which can create problems with the main power generators.

Fotis Pagoulatos, a naval architect, explained that a complete blackout could result in a ship losing propulsion. While smaller generators can kick in, they are unable to handle all the functions of the main ones and take time to start.

The investigation into the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), will include a review of the operations and safety record of the ship, as well as its owner and operator.

The NTSB will also attempt to secure recorders from the vessel to gain insights into what happened leading up to the crash. NTSB Chief Jennifer Homendy emphasized that this is a collaborative effort involving multiple entities.

The Dali, manufactured by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, has undergone more than 20 port state control inspections since its construction in 2015, according to data from Equasis, an international shipping database.

None of these inspections resulted in detention, which occurs when a ship is deemed unfit to travel.

However, two of the inspections identified deficiencies: one in Belgium in July 2016 reported hull damage, and another in Chile in June 2023 described an issue with the ship’s propulsion and auxiliary machinery.

A review conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard in September 2023 found no issues. For its trip on Tuesday, the vessel was operated by Singapore-based Synergy Marine Group and was carrying cargo for Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk.

The ship, owned by Singaporean company Grace Ocean Pte., departed from a terminal at the Port of Baltimore and was en route to Sri Lanka. At the time of the crash, there were two pilots and 22 crew members from India on board the ship.

The bridge collapse is expected to result in a series of multibillion-dollar insurance claims, encompassing the loss of the structure itself, the disruption to businesses using the port, and more, according to insurance analysts. Victims of the crash may also file claims against the ship operator.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was constructed in 1977 at a cost of over $60 million, which, when adjusted for inflation, amounts to approximately $300 million today. The investigation into the collapse will shed light on the potential role of contaminated fuel and other factors that contributed to this tragic incident.


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