Baltimore Bridge Hit by Container Ship, Collapses - Modern Distribution Management

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Baltimore Bridge Hit by Container Ship, Collapses

A major bridge at a key U.S. port entry has collapsed, potentially disrupting Port of Baltimore operations for months.
Port of Baltimore

A Baltimore bridge spanning over entry to one of the busiest U.S. ports has collapsed after a container ship crashed into the bridge column.

U.S. Coast Guard officials suspect the 948-foot vessel — operated by the Singapore-based Synergy Marine Group — had mechanical issues just before hitting the Francis Scott Key Bridge around 1:30 a.m. ET on March 26, but the cause of the collision is still under investigation.

Multiple vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. Crews are in active search-and-rescue for six people who fell into the water and are unaccounted for, but many more are suspected to have fallen. A Baltimore City Fire Chief said as many as 20 people and multiple cars likely fell. The crew of the ship were not injured, according to reports.

Logistics Impact

The 1.6-mile bridge, which carries four lanes of traffic on Interstate 695, is blocking vessel entry to the Port of Baltimore, the largest U.S. port for specialized cargo such as trucks and trailers. Its largest exports are coal, LNG and waster paper, while vehicles, salt, gypsum and sugar are its biggest imports, according to the Wall Street Journal. Vessel traffic is currently suspended, while trucks are still being processed at the port.

The collapse of the key bridge has implications for some distribution companies reliant on the movement of goods through this crucial port. With vessel traffic suspended to a major hub for specialized cargo, delays in shipping and logistics could result in increased costs and inventory shortages.

“The collapse will have ripple effects on the port’s operations that could last for months,” the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting U.S. Coast Guard officials.

In an afternoon address, President Joe Biden said the federal government will pay for the entire cost to rebuild the bridge. He said 15,000 jobs depend on the port.

“I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” Biden said.

[Editor’s Note: This article was updated March 26 at 3:37 p.m. ET to add a statement made by President Biden.]

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