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FBI launches probe into Baltimore Bridge collapse involving Sri Lanka-bound cargo ship

April 16, Colombo (LNW): The US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has initiated a criminal probe into the tragic collapse of a Baltimore bridge last month, which occurred when a vessel collided with one of its supports, the bureau announced yesterday (15).

FBI agents boarded the cargo ship Dali to conduct court-authorised law enforcement activities related to the crash, according to a spokesperson cited by Reuters.

However, no further details were disclosed, and the FBI declined to provide additional comments.

The incident, which transpired in the early hours of March 26, involved a substantial container ship en route to Sri Lanka losing power and striking a support pylon, resulting in the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsing into the Patapsco River.

Tragically, six individuals lost their lives while working on the bridge during the collision.

The investigation into the bridge collapse will scrutinise various factors, including whether the crew of the cargo vessel Dali departed the port despite knowing about significant issues with its systems, according to Washington Post.

Safety investigators have retrieved the ship’s “black box” recorder, which contains critical data on its navigation, communications, and alarms, among other parameters.

Additionally, the US National Transportation Safety Board has conducted interviews with essential personnel from the cargo ship as part of its inquiry.

Efforts to clear the wreckage and restore traffic in the port’s shipping channel are ongoing. While replacing the bridge is expected to be a multi-year endeavour, authorities have established temporary channels to accommodate shallow-draft vessels navigating around the obstructed container vessel.

The US Army Corps of Engineers aims to open a new channel to the Port of Baltimore by the end of April.

It is noteworthy that at the time of the collision, the Dali was departing Baltimore bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka, with a crew of 21 members and two pilots to assist in navigating out of the port.

The vessel, registered under the Singapore flag, has been associated with previous incidents, including a collision in the port of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2016.

An inspection conducted in San Antonio, Chile, in June 2023, identified deficiencies in the vessel’s propulsion and auxiliary machinery, according to data from the Equasis website.

Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority reported that the vessel passed inspections at foreign ports in June and September of the previous year.

Grace Ocean Pte Ltd is listed as the registered owner of the ship, which is managed by the Synergy Marine Group, with Maersk chartering the vessel.

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