Port Of Baltimore Partially Reopens, Allowing Trapped Cargo Ships To Exit  

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Apr 26, 2024 - 06:25 PM

Officials at the Port of Baltimore opened a fourth, 35-foot deep, temporary channel through the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, allowing cargo ships trapped at the port to exit. 

According to Bloomberg's ship tracking data, four of seven ships trapped at the port navigated the new temporary channel and are sailing down the Chesapeake Bay. 

On Thursday, the Balsa 94, a bulk carrier sailing under a Panama flag, transited the temporary channel for Saint John, Canada. Three other ships, including the Saimaagracht cargo vessel, the Carmen vehicle carrier, and the Phatra Naree bulk carrier, were also able to exit. 

The new 35-foot depth channel is a massive increase compared to smaller channels opened several weeks after the Dali container ship slammed into the bridge one month ago, toppling the bridge and paralyzing the port. 

"While this is a significant achievement, we have a long way to go, and Unified Command is committed to fully opening the channel by the end of May," US Coast Guard Cmdr. Baxter Smoak told reporters. 

Next week, salvage crews expect to refloat Dali, which will then be pushed back to port by tugboats for inspection. Once Dali and all debris are removed, the main shipping channel could reopen next month. 

However, Ben Schafer, an engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University, told AP News that a new bridge could take five to seven years to be rebuilt. 

"The lead time on air conditioning equipment right now for a home renovation is like 16 months, right?" Schafer said. 

He continued: "So it's like you're telling me they're going to build a whole bridge in two years? I want it to be true, but I think empirically it doesn't feel right to me."

Let's remember that the bridge was critical for the port and a critical feeder to the Interstate 95 highway network up and down the mid-Atlantic area. Local supply chain snarls will persist for years.