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City of Baltimore accuses Dali owners of negligence in Key Bridge collapse

Lorraine Mirabella, Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE — The owners of the Dali were negligent in sailing an unseaworthy ship out of the Port of Baltimore and should be held fully liable for the Key Bridge collapse that killed six people, the city said Monday in a court filing.

“None of this should have happened,” a claim filed by the mayor and City Council in Baltimore’s U.S. District Court said. “Even before leaving port, alarms showing an inconsistent power supply on the Dali had sounded. The Dali left port anyway, despite its clearly unseaworthy condition.”

In a claim seeking damages, the city responded to the Dali owners’ request before a federal judge to clear them from liability or limit damages to the value of the ship plus the revenue it stood to make from its cargo.

Grace Ocean Private Ltd., the owner, and Synergy Marine Pte Ltd., which manages the 984-foot cargo ship, both based in Singapore, filed a claim April 1, which estimated the damaged ship’s value and expected revenue at $43.7 million.

Cargo ships have made thousands of trips each year for more than four decades under the Francis Scott Key Bridge without incident, and no conditions on March 26 should have changed that, the city’s filing says.

By failing to investigate or fix an inconsistent power supply that set off alarms in refrigerated containers hours before the ship departed, the owners were “grossly and potentially criminally negligent,” the claim says. “In no way should their liability be limited.”


Darrell Wilson, a spokesperson for the ship’s owners, declined Monday to respond to the city’s allegations.

“Just out of respect for the legal process, it would be inappropriate to comment,” Wilson said.

The city is also blaming the Dali’s crew, accusing the company of manning the ship with “an incompetent crew that was inattentive to its duties,” “failed to comply with local navigation customs” and “improperly navigated the Vessel.”

The Dali, which weighed more than 112,000 tons loaded with containers, was leaving the port March 26 for a monthslong voyage to Sri Lanka when it experienced a reported power outage near the bridge and smashed into a supporting pier. The bridge fell into the Patapsco River in minutes, sending a crew of workers who were repairing potholes on Interstate 695 into the water. Authorities have recovered four bodies and are searching for bodies of two more men who are missing and presumed dead.


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