Ship that crashed into bridge has a troubled history

The ship that struck and destroyed a Baltimore bridge on Tuesday morning has a checkered history, including at least one earlier collision and propulsion worries.

It’s still not clear what caused the Dali to smash into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, but video footage showed nearly all of its lights going off shortly before impact. The incident is proving disruptive for shipping at one of the busiest ports on the US East Coast and also for road transport, as it severed a key link on the major highway encircling Baltimore.

The Dali hit a stone wall berth at the Port of Antwerp in 2016 during unmooring maneuvers, according to VesselFinder. The vessel, which was built in 2015, suffered damage to its stern and transom but remained afloat. The ship was then repaired.

The Washington Post reported that the ship was sold to Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Ltd. after that accident. Grace Ocean wasn’t immediately available for comment.

More recently, mechanical questions have been raised. Last June, a routine safety inspection at San Antonio, Chile, found issues related to some of the gauges and thermometers linked to the Dali’s propulsion and auxiliary machinery, according to Tokyo MoU, an organization that promotes safe shipping. The issues weren’t grounds to detain the ship, flying under the Singapore flag, and it was unclear exactly what they were.

A standard ship examination by the US Coast Guard later last year found no deficiencies, the Equasis marine database showed.

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Records and statutory certificates show the Dali’s structural integrity and the functionality of its equipment were valid at the time of the Baltimore incident, the Singaporean government said in a statement. The vessel also passed two separate foreign port inspections in June and September of last year, although a faulty monitor gauge for fuel pressure was fixed before the ship departed port.

The Dali is managed and operated by Synergy Marine, and on charter to Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S. A London-based spokesman for Synergy Marine said the ship had around 4,900 containers on board at the time of the latest accident. Company executives were traveling to the site to assess the situation.

Roy Walsh

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