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DredgeWire Exclusive: The primary crane removing debris at Baltimore’s collapsed Key Bridge has a crazy bizarre history

1000 ton crane owned by Donjon Marine, now named the “Chesapeake”

Posted on April 1, 2024

DredgeWire has sorted out some “key” facts about the lead crane now working to remove debris and restore navigation at the Key Bridge near the Port of Baltimore. The crane is reportedly the largest floating crane on the East Coast of the US.

First, the crane is over 50 years old, which makes it older than the Key Bridge.

Second, as reported by the US Naval Institute below, it was built as part of a top-secret CIA project to recover a sunken nuclear Soviet submarine in the Pacific.

Third, and perhaps strangest of all, it was previously deployed in 1977 during the same month that construction finished on the Francis Scott Key Bridge to help remove a collapsed bridge on the Chesapeake Bay that had fallen on a vessel after the vessel struck the bridge when its rudder failed…eerily similar to today’s project.

Finally, the crane was used a few years ago on the Hudson River in New York on a vessel recovery project after a fatal tugboat accident during the construction of the new Cuomo Tappan Zee bridge.

1977 bridge collapse on the James River near Norfolk showing floating crane “Chesapeake” on the job, the same month the Baltimore Key Bridge opened

(Link here to story about the Virginia bridge collapse

Here is a good article about the CIA project for which the crane was built:

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