May 26th, 2024

First cargo ship passes through newly opened channel in Baltimore since bridge collapse

By Lea Skene, The Associated Press on April 25, 2024.

A bulk carrier moves through a newly opened deep-water channel in Baltimore after being stuck in the harbor since the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed four weeks ago, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

BALTIMORE (AP) – The first cargo ship passed through a newly opened deep-water channel in Baltimore on Thursday after being stuck in the harbor since the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed four weeks ago.

The Balsa 94, a bulk carrier sailing under a Panama flag, passed through the new 35-foot (12-meter) channel headed for St. John, Canada.

The ship is one of five stranded vessels expected to pass through the new, temporary channel. On Thursday morning, the vessel moved through the channel guided by two tug boats, one in front and one behind. It passed slowly by the wreckage of the bridge and the Dali, the massive container ship that caused the collapse when it slammed into one of the bridge’s support columns.

The Balsa 94 is expected to arrive in Canada on Monday.

The new channel will remain open until Monday or Tuesday. It will then close again until roughly May 10 while crews work to remove steel from the Dali and refloat the ship, which will then be guided back into the port, officials said earlier this week.

The 35-foot depth is a substantial increase over the three other temporary channels established in recent weeks. It puts the cleanup effort slightly ahead of schedule, as officials previously said they hoped to open a channel of that depth by the end of April.

Five of the seven cargo ships that have been stuck in Baltimore’s harbor will be able to pass through the new channel, including one loaded car carrier, officials said. Other ships are scheduled to enter the port, which normally processes more cars and farm equipment than any other in the country.

The port’s main channel, with a controlling depth of 50 feet (15 meters), is set to reopen next month after the ship has been removed. That will essentially restore marine traffic to normal.

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