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Shipping giant Maersk confirms it chartered ship that collided with Baltimore bridge

A US Coast Guard helicopter flies over the Dali container vessel after it struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge that collapsed into the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, US, on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. The commuter bridge collapsed after being rammed by the Dali ship, causing vehicles to plunge into the water.

Posted on March 27, 2024

Danish shipping giant Maersk on Tuesday confirmed it had chartered the container ship which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the U.S. city of Baltimore in the early hours of the morning.

The bridge across the Patapsco River partially collapsed following the incident, which occurred around 1:35 a.m. local time Tuesday, according to local officials. A rescue operation is underway.

“We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected. We can confirm that the container vessel ‘DALI’, operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group, is time chartered by Maersk and is carrying Maersk customers’ cargo,” the company said in a statement.

“No Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel. We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy, and we will do our utmost to keep our customers informed.”

The vessel appeared to be traveling at roughly 8 knots before the collision, according to LSEG shipping data. Marine traffic data indicates it was leaving Baltimore bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Maersk shares ended the session down 2.6% on Tuesday, paring earlier losses.

Traffic has been suspended in and out of Baltimore port, the deepest harbor in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and one of the U.S. East Coast’s busiest ports. At least nine cargo vessels with Baltimore listed as their destination were anchored outside the port Tuesday morning, according to MarineTraffic data.

Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed after it was struck by a large vessel.

Since the Panama Canal was expanded in 2016, Baltimore’s 50-foot shipping channel and port handle some of the world’s largest cargo ships that arrive from Asia and elsewhere. The port handles goods including automotives, sugar, coal and machinery.

The Singapore-flagged DALI is a 948-ft ship and, according to Synergy Marine Group, had a crew of 22 members on board at the time of the crash. None were injured.

David Ostler, shipping and commodities principal analyst at Lloyd’s List Intelligence, told CNBC that an investigation will be likely launched to establish legal liability for the event, with hundreds of millions of dollars potentially on the line.

The scale of the damages will spill over into the global reinsurance market, which provides insurance for insurers, he said.

Ostler added that the flag carrier of a vessel has a legal duty to carry out an investigation, while the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will also likely carry out its own report, although this could take months. Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority said Tuesday it was in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard and the management of the company behind the ship.

Maersk will have liability cover as the charterer rather than as the operator of the vessel, Ostler added.


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