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Baltimore Marine Disaster Underscores Risks At Sea

In a rare accident of its kind, a Singapore-flagged container vessel Dali, rammed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key bridge early leading to the entire bridge collapsing into the Patapsco River

Tuesday’s marine disaster on the Patapasco River near Baltimore in Maryland could well be termed bizarre. How does a container vessel equipped with all modern navigational aids ram into a 47-year-old bridge that stands out on any map let alone a river?

Capt DK Sharma, formerly of the Indian Navy, is StratNews Global’s resident naval and maritime affairs specialist. In his view, it would be unfair at this point to blame the captain of the ship or the pilots guiding the container vessel Dali out to open sea. Video images of the Dali suggest it may have experienced a loss of control, which is what the Singapore’s Synergy Marine which operates the vessel claims.

Capt. Sharma says if an inquiry finds the captain of the Dali or the pilots guilty of negligence, they face severe penalties including losing their licence. In effect, their career would be finished. But if it is proved that the ship experienced mechanical or other failure that led to loss of control, it may explain how it rammed into the pillar of the Francis Scott Key bridge.

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Another possible explanation is the time of the ship leaving its berth. If this is done in broad daylight or at night, the chances of an accident are less. But it is in the uneasy transition from daylight to darkness and vice versa, that things can go horribly wrong.

Tune in for more in this conversation with Capt. DK Sharma.