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17th May 2024

Crew that crashed ship into Baltimore bridge still trapped onboard seven weeks later

Charlie Herbert

crew of Baltimore bridge ship still trapped onboard

It’s been described as a ‘sad situation’

The crew of the ship that crashed into a Baltimore’s iconic Francis Scott Key Bridge are still trapped onboard, seven weeks on from the disaster.

In March, a 948ft (289m) container ship, called the Dali, crashed into the bridge, causing it to collapse into the Patapsco river.

Six people working on the bridge died in the incident, and the Dali was marooned under the wreckage.

A demolition process has started to try and free the ship using controlled explosions which will “cut” the metal.

But seven weeks on from the crash, 21 crew members are still trapped onboard the vessel in the ship’s hull.

The crew is made up of 20 Indians and a Sri Lankan national, with the Dali having been on a 27-day journey from Baltimore to Sri Lanka when it struck the bridge.

All of the crew have been unable to disembark the ship due to visa restrictions, a lack of required shore passes and parallel ongoing investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and FBI, the BBC reports.

Ahead of the controlled demolition to free the ship, US Coast Guard Admiral Shannon Gilreath said the crew would remain below deck as the explosions were carried out.

He said: “They’re part of the ship. They are necessary to keep the ship staffed and operational.

“They’re the best responders on board the ship themselves.”

Efforts are still underway to free the Dali from the metal wreckage (Getty)

The crew have been separated from their families back home, and haven’t even been able to phone home, as their phones were confiscated by the FBI as part of the investigation.

The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center is a non-profit organisation that works to protect the rights of mariners, and its executive director, Joshua Messick, has been in touch with the crew.

He said: “They can’t do any online banking. They can’t pay their bills at home. They don’t have any of their data or anyone’s contact information, so they’re really isolated right now.

“They just can’t reach out to the folks they need to, or even look at pictures of their children before they go to sleep. It’s really a sad situation.”

The Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen, the two unions representing the crew, have called for the “swift return” of their phones. They said losing communication with him is “causing significant hardship for crew members with young children at home.”

The Dali’s management company have said the crew is “holding up well” and that company representatives dispatched to Baltimore have been “checking on them constantly, from day one.”

The crew have been receiving care packages including Indian snacks and handmade quilts from community groups, whilst Hindu priests have been allowed onboard the ship to provide services and emotional support to the crew.

But as of yet, there is still no clear timeline for when they will be able to disembark, with the crew still integral to the ships function.

Related links:

Here’s why the Baltimore Key Bridge collapsed so quickly