Container ship set to be moved 8 weeks after Francis Scott Key Bridge crash

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Container ship set to be moved 8 weeks after Francis Scott Key Bridge crash

The enormous container ship that collided with and collapsed Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge in March began to slowly move away from the site and taken to shore on Monday in a complex procedure.

The Unified Command, a collection of local and federal agencies that is managing the operation, said the ship became buoyant at around 6:40 a.m. ET and as of 7 a.m. it was being moved by tugboats to a local port.

The Dali crashed with the bridge in the early hours on March 26, causing a catastrophic failure of the structure which led to the deaths of six construction workers and disrupted shipping across the East Coast and has remained in the Patapsco River for the last eight weeks.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said on Sunday that the ship would be removed “within days.”

“The refloat and transit sequence is deliberately designed to ensure all response personnel around the M/V Dali maintain control of the vessel, from refloat, transit to, and berthing at a local marine terminal,” the command said in a statement Sunday.

Engineers had planned to examine the ship, release some of the anchors and mooring lines still attached to it, and de-ballast, or remove, some or all of the 1.25 million gallons of water that was pumped onto the ship to compensate for the weight removed by precision cutting on May 13.

When it is freed and on the open water, up to five tugboats are to escort the Dali the 2-and-a-half miles to a local port — all at a speed of around 1 mph.

The route was checked and confirmed to be clear by a survey vessel earlier this week, the Unified Command said.

A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report last week found that the almost 1,000-foot long Dali, which was sailing for Sri Lanka under a Singaporean flag, lost power twice in three minutes before the crash.

The Dali’s 22 crew members were unharmed in the crash but have had to remain on board ever since the crash — including during a controlled explosion.

U.S. regulations state that any ship must have a minimum staff manning it at all times.

Government officials, investigators and union staff have been on board to see the crew. The Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union said in a statement earlier this month that its officials had visited the mariners and found they expressed an “unfounded fear of personal criminal liability” and emotional distress.

The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the crash.

Baltimore is a top 20 U.S. port, and disruption caused by the crash has affected supply chains across the East Coast.

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