U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Expands Port of Baltimore Limited Access Channel

Along with the removal of the M/V Dali, salvage crews expanded the Port of Baltimore limited access channel to a width of 400 feet and a depth of 50 feet on May 20, allowing for the transit of all deep-draft commercial vessels calling on the Port of Baltimore.

The M/V Dali was refloated one week after precision cutting was used to remove the section of steel truss pinning it down. As soon as the M/V Dali departed, salvors immediately resumed removing wreckage from the Federal Channel.

“We are proud of the unified efforts that have partially reopened the Federal Channel to port operations,” said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, commanding general of USACE.

Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, gets a closer look of what remains of “Section 4” wreckage in the Fort McHenry Federal Channel May 22, 2024. USACE PHOTO BY BOBBY PETTY

To restore the Federal Channel to its original 700-foot width and 50-foot depth, USACE continues to clear wreckage from the riverbed. The continued work involves digging out the bottom cord of the remaining truss and cutting it into three sections to safely lift the wreckage.

“We are not taking our foot off the gas,” said Col. Estee S. Pinchasin, USACE, Baltimore District commander. “We are pushing forward as quickly and safely as possible to reach 700 feet and ensuring we remove all wreckage to prevent any impact to future navigation.”

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Only about one-third of this truss is visible above the water as it stretches down to the riverbed and sits buried in the mud line. Based on the latest dive surveys and engineer analyses conducted after precision cutting and refloating the M/V Dali, the work to restore the Federal Channel is projected to conclude between June 8-10. The adjusted timing accounts for the complexity of the cutting and rigging required to lift portions of the large span. It also accounts for safety measures and possible inclement weather potentially impacting ongoing salvage operations.

From aboard a floating crane removing wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site, Assistant Salvage Master Robyn Bianchi provides a situation report to Col. Estee Pinchasin, Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon and Paul Hankins May 22, 2024. USACE PHOTO BY BOBBY PETTY

“This effort is more complex than initially estimated,” Pinchasin said. “Salvage crews must dig out the bottom cord of this truss to access the areas needing to be cut.”

The overarching goal remains to restore full operational capacity to the Federal Channel. Although the Unified Command reached the 400-foot width, allowing all vessels in and out of the Port of Baltimore, complex work remains to attain the full 700-foot width of the Fort McHenry Channel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to work in a coordinated effort with all the agencies that comprise the Unified Command.

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