Cargo Ship Owner Behind Baltimore Bridge Crash Sued Multiple Times for Alleged Negligence, Worker Injuries

The Maersk-chartered MV Dali was detained by port officials in Chile last June after inspectors discovered a problem related to the vessel’s “propulsion and auxiliary machinery.”

Brett Wilkins

The cargo ship Dali sits in the water after running into and collapsing the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The mega-container ship that lost propulsion before toppling Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge in a Tuesday morning collision was involved in a previous crash, and was cited last year for propulsion-related problems.

Newsweek reported that the Maersk Line Limited-chartered MV Dali—which crashed into the Interstate 695 Patapsco River crossing just before 1:30 am, causing the span to collapse and sending a construction crew into the water — collided with a wall in the harbor at Antwerp, Belgium in 2016. The accident, which was reported by Vessel Finder and other outlets at the time, was attributed to errors made by the ship’s master and pilot.

The 9-year-old Dali was also detained by port officials in San Antonio, Chile last June after inspectors discovered a problem related to the vessel’s propulsion and auxiliary machinery,” according to The Washington Post, which cited records from the intergovernmental shipping regulator Tokyo MOU.

The ship’s owner, Grace Ocean Private Ltd., and operator, Synergy Marine, have been sued at least four times in U.S. federal court on allegations of negligence and other claims tied to worker injuries on other ships owned and operated by the Singapore-based companies,” according to The Associated Press.

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Maersk was also sanctioned last year by the U.S. Labor Department for allegedly stopping employees from reporting safety concerns, documents published by The Lever revealed.

According to a July 14, 2023 Labor Department letter to Maersk regarding an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation, the Danish company suspended and then terminated” a worker in retaliation for reporting unsafe conditions and contacting the U.S. Coast Guard.”

The fired employee engaged in numerous protected activities” including reporting a leak and the need for repairs to a ship’s cargo hold bilge system, alcohol use aboard the vessel by crew members, and inoperable equipment including an emergency fire pump and lifeboat block and releasing gear.

Maersk was also sanctioned last year by the U.S. Labor Department for allegedly stopping employees from reporting safety concerns.

The search for six construction workers who were on the bridge when it collapsed into the river was suspended until Wednesday, according toThe Associated Press. The workers are presumed dead by their employer, Brawner Builders. Local media reported that multiple vehicles plunged into the river and that two workers — one of whom was briefly hospitalized — were rescued from the water.

This story originally appeared in Common Dreams.

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Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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