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Almost 2 months after it destroyed Baltimore’s Key Bridge, the Dali cargo ship has been moved and docked. Here’s what’s next


By Holly Yan, Elizabeth Wolfe, Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace, CNN

Baltimore (CNN) — After 55 days stuck in the Patapsco River, the Dali cargo ship was hauled away from the site of its catastrophic crash into the Francis Scott Key Bridge – a crucial step toward fully reopening the busy Port of Baltimore.

The ship’s removal will now allow for “all pre-collapse deep-draft commercial vessels to enter and exit the Port of Baltimore,” according to a Monday afternoon news release from the Unified Command, a joint task force composed of multiple government agencies responding to the disaster.

The temporary federal channel will “soon be” 400 feet wide and 50 feet deep, the news release said. Officials have said they plan to open the permanent 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of this month.

“This marks the resumption of commercial vessel transits in and out of the Port of Baltimore,” the task force said in a Monday statement. “This truly signifies the next chapter in restoring the waterway commerce in this region, which also serves as the economic engine for thousands of workers and their families who depend on commerce traveling through the Port of Baltimore.”

Several tugboats started pulling the 106,000-ton vessel at around 7 a.m. Monday, officials said. The ship traveled about 1 mph to the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore.

By late Monday morning, the Dali was docked at the terminal – the same spot it departed from on its ill-fated voyage almost eight weeks ago.

There, the ship will undergo any necessary, temporary fixes before more permanent repairs can be made, officials have said. In the meantime, crews will remove any remaining bridge wreckage from the crash site until the channel can be fully reopened, Unified Command said.

“We have refloated and moved the Dali – achieving in weeks what many thought would take months,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said Monday on X. “But our work isn’t done. We must continue to clear the full 700 foot federal channel, support the workers, businesses, and families affected by the collapse, and rebuild the Key Bridge.”

President Joe Biden called the removal a “mark of progress and a promise kept.”

Authorities probe the cause of the calamity

Federal authorities are still investigating why the cargo ship lost power, veered off course and smashed into the Key Bridge on March 26 – killing six construction workers.

Multiple investigations are underway to try to determine who might be responsible. Last month, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced a probe “to hold the wrongdoers responsible and to mitigate the immediate and long-term harm” to residents.

The ship’s Singaporean owner, Grace Ocean Private Limited, and manager, Synergy Marine PTE LTD, filed a petition in federal court last month asking for a $43.6 million limit on potential liability payouts.

The city of Baltimore has asked the court to deny that request.

The FBI, the US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are also investigating.

Last week, the NTSB released a preliminary report saying the Dali had a pair of electrical failures minutes before the collision, as well as two blackouts while the ship was in port one day earlier. One of those in-port blackouts was caused by a crew error, the report said.

The FBI and Coast Guard are looking into whether the crew failed to report the in-port power outage, according to a US official familiar with the matter.

The crew has been stuck for nearly 2 months

The Dali’s 21-member crew has been confined to the ship since March 26 and will likely have to stay on board “for the foreseeable future,” the ship’s management company said.

There is no immediate plan for what the 20 Indian and one Sri Lankan crew members will do after the Dali is relocated Monday, said Barbara Shipley, mid-Atlantic labor representative for the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

The seamen’s one-month visas expired during the nearly two months they’ve been trapped on board, according to one of the unions representing the crew members.

The seafarers have been without their cell phones for more than a month because the FBI confiscated the devices as part of their ongoing investigation, Shipley said.

“It’s important to get these gentlemen back home to their families,” she said.

But international maritime regulations require the vessel to have some staff on board. Shipley hopes officials will prioritize deciding which of the men can go home and which need to stay behind.

Though the seafarers have been stuck on board, they have not remained idle. They’ve played a critical role in maintaining the ship’s functioning and helping salvage crews navigate the boat, said Darrell Wilson, spokesperson for Synergy Marine Group – the company that manages the Dali vessel.

Synergy has provided mental health services for the seamen, who have been grappling with the deaths of the six construction workers killed in the crash.

“It has been tough for the seafarers, primarily (because) they know that there’s been loss of life,” said Gwee Guo Duan, assistant general secretary of the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union – one of the unions representing crew members on the Singaporean-flagged ship.

“It is tough for them, being on board and having to look at the accident site every single day.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Christina Maxouris, Amanda Musa, Zoe Sottile, Chris Boyette, Nicole Grether, Gloria Pazmino and Jillian Sykes contributed to this report.

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