Baltimore Bridge Hit by Cargo Ship: Echoes of 1980 Incident

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ByThe Counter

A massive cargo ship, the MV Dali, slammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday, causing a catastrophic collapse. This incident raises questions about bridge safety, as it’s not the first time the Key Bridge has faced such a collision.

In 1980, another container ship, the Blue Nagoya, lost control and struck the bridge. While it caused some damage, the bridge remained standing. Experts are now comparing the two incidents to understand the stark difference in outcomes.

Speed Not the Culprit

Both ships were traveling at similar speeds, around 7 knots. It appears speed wasn’t a major factor this time.

The Dali’s Devastating Impact

Investigators believe the Key Bridge simply couldn’t withstand the direct hit from the much larger Dali, weighing a staggering 95,000 tons.

Missing Protection?

Crucially, the Key Bridge lacked protective barriers that could have deflected or prevented the Dali’s impact. This raises concerns, as such safeguards have become standard practice since a similar incident in Florida in 1980.

Lessons from the Past

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse in 1980, caused by a freighter hitting a support column, led to the adoption of impact protection devices. The Key Bridge, predating these safety measures, was left more vulnerable.

Growing Cargo Ship Threat

Experts point out that cargo ships have grown significantly larger and heavier since the 1970s. This means vessels like the Dali pose a much greater threat to bridges than their predecessors.

The Road Ahead

The full investigation into the Key Bridge collapse will take time. However, it’s clear that this incident will likely lead to a reevaluation of bridge safety measures, particularly with regards to protecting structures from increasingly massive cargo ships.

Image—Jim Lo Scalzo/EPE-EFE/Shutterstock

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