FBI Initiates Investigation into Collapse of Baltimore Bridge

The FBI has launched a federal criminal investigation into the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, which tragically resulted in six lives lost. This inquiry underscores the gravity of the incident and aims to ascertain any criminal liabilities. A cargo ship striking the bridge, leading to its downfall into the Patapsco River, marks a significant event that necessitates thorough examination to prevent future occurrences and ensure accountability.

On March 26, in the early hours, an incident occurred involving the container ship Dali, which lost power and collided with a support pylon of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The collision’s force led to the bridge’s collapse, tragically trapping and leading to the untimely demise of six individuals working on it at that time. The reasons behind this catastrophic event are still under investigation. The FBI’s involvement through a criminal probe seeks to illuminate any potential acts of criminal negligence or wrongdoing that contributed to this disaster.

The focus of the ongoing investigation includes examining whether the Dali’s crew was aware of any significant issues with its systems before departing from port. Reports suggest that safety investigators are particularly interested in determining if there was prior knowledge of ship deficiencies. To assist in this investigation, authorities have recovered the ship’s “black box” recorder, which holds crucial data regarding its position, speed, heading, radar information, bridge audio, and radio communications at times leading up to and during the incident.

The FBI’s participation indicates a step towards a comprehensive federal criminal probe. While specific details remain undisclosed by the bureau, FBI agents have embarked on court-authorized law enforcement activities aboard Dali as part of their investigative efforts. This approach is expected to uncover any potential acts of negligence or violations that might have played a role in causing such a tragic event.

Additionally, there is interest in Dali’s operational history due to previous incidents and inspections that raise questions about its navigation and operational performance. Notably, an inspection conducted in June 2023 identified propulsion and auxiliary machinery deficiencies. Although these findings were available publicly on Equasis—a website providing information on ships—the vessel passed subsequent foreign-port inspections according to reports by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

The aftermath of this collapse has significantly affected both local communities and shipping operations within Baltimore’s port area. Efforts are underway to clear wreckage and restore normal traffic through this vital shipping channel; however, replacing the bridge is anticipated to take several years.

To mitigate impacts on shipping logistics temporarily, authorities have established two temporary channels for shallow-draft vessels navigating around the site where Dali remains stranded. Moreover, plans announced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aim for opening a new channel by April’s end to facilitate access to Baltimore’s Port again—efforts directed at restoring goods flow and supporting regional economic stability.

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