Baltimore Bridge Collapse Recovery Begins

Baltimore Bridge Collapse Recovery Begins
Baltimore Bridge Collapse Recovery Begins

Three heavy lift floating cranes arrived in Baltimore harbor to begin what Maryland's governor described as a "remarkably complex operation" to clear crumpled girders from a collapsed bridge taken down by an errant container ship.

"To see it up close, you realize just how daunting a task this is," Maryland Governor Wes Moore told a news conference after touring the disaster scene in a boat.

Vessel traffic through the busy Port of Baltimore has been suspended indefinitely, causing disruptions to trade spanning the globe, and Moore warned that recovery would be lengthy. 

The complexity of the recovery dismayed those involved.

Twisted bridge trusses weighing thousands of tons still entrap the damaged container ship.

The Chesapeake, a 1,000-ton lift capacity derrick barge, and two smaller crane barges arrived in Baltimore harbor, the Navy said, and a fourth crane barge will arrive next week.

The work of clearing tons of steel debris from the deep waters of the Patapsco River is made more delicate by the fact that the bodies of four workers have yet to be recovered.

The four missing workers are believed to have been killed when the Singapore-flagged, 300-meter Dali lost power and careened into a bridge support column.

The federal administration has approved $60 million in emergency funding for the cleanup and recovery operation, while the cost of building a new bridge could ultimately hit $1 billion.

The operation will likely take place in three phases: trusses from the bridge removed to allow one-way traffic into and out of the port; bridge segments on the ship lifted so the ship can be moved; and then steel and concrete debris from the river bed cleared.

The project will likely take months, though one analyst told the US Naval Institute that the channel could be reopened for limited traffic in as little as one month.