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The ship lost power hours before the collision, according to the NTSB

(NewsNation) — A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board has found that the container ship Dali lost power several times before colliding with a bridge in Baltimore on March 26, including twice the day before.

The report details the events that led to the Dali storming the Francis Scott Key Bridge early that morning, killing six construction workers.


The first power outage occurred after a crew member accidentally closed an exhaust flap while performing maintenance about 10 hours before the fatal accident, causing one of the ship’s diesel engines to stall, National Transportation Safety Board investigators said in their preliminary report.

According to investigators, after the first power outage, an emergency generator switched on automatically. It continued to run for a short time – until it started again due to insufficient fuel pressure, causing a second power failure. According to the report, crew members made changes to the ship’s electrical configuration at that time, switching from a transformer and circuit breaker system that had been in operation for several months to another that was active upon departure.

After leaving dock the next day, the Dali’s circuit breakers tripped about 0.6 miles from the bridge, causing a power outage. Crews worked to restore power, but about 0.2 miles from the bridge, the ship’s circuit breakers tripped again.

While the Dali regained power before impact, the crew failed to restore propulsion systems in time to avoid the bridge. The crew had also requested help from a nearby tugboat, the Eric McAllister, to steer them away from the bridge. The tug could not reach the Dali in time to avert the collision.

Maryland Bridge collapse
The collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge lay on the roof of the container ship Dali in Baltimore on Monday, April 15, 2024. The FBI confirmed that there were agents on board the Dali conducting court-authorized law enforcement operations. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

The NTSB is still investigating the ship’s electrical systems and whether there is a connection between the earlier power outages on March 25 and the outages shortly before the collision.

All crew members of the Dali and both harbor pilots, an experienced pilot and an apprentice pilot, tested negative for drugs and alcohol. Tests also revealed no concerns about the fuel used in the ship.

The agency is still working to determine a probable cause of the crash and is examining the Dali’s electrical and propulsion systems as well as measures to contain impact forces on the bridge supports.

NTSB Chief Jennifer Homendy and other officials will testify before Congress about the collision on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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