Updated Mar 27, 2024 - Business

Where the Baltimore bridge collapse investigation stands

NTSB investigators on Wednesday aboard the cargo ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore this week, with the collapsed bridge in the background over the port.

NTSB investigators on Wednesday aboard the cargo ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, this week. Photo: National Transportation Safety Board/Flickr

The voyage data recorder of the cargo ship that crashed into the Baltimore bridge and led to its collapse was recovered on Wednesday as National Transportation Safety Board investigators work to determine the cause of the incident.

The big picture: NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy told CNN that investigators would examine the recorder from the Singapore-flagged Dali to try and determine how it lost power and would look into reports that dirty fuel may have played a role in the ship losing power and hitting the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

  • The bodies of two construction workers who were among a group of six working on the bridge at the time of the collapse were recovered on Wednesday. The other four workers had yet to be found.
  • Homendy expects the NTSB's investigation into the events surrounding the bridge collapse to take 12 to 24 months to complete.

State of play: The NTSB chair said 21 crew members and two pilots were on board the Dali when the vessel hit the bridge early Tuesday.

  • Preliminary findings show several alarms were recorded starting to sound on the ship's bridge audio just before 1:25am, said Marcel Muise, the NTSB investigator in charge of the probe, at a briefing.
  • The ship's pilot made a general very high frequency (VHF) radio call for nearby tugs to help the vessel around 1:26am and the Maryland Transportation Authority was called soon after the blackout and before it hit the bridge.

Zoom out: The Dali had undergone "routine engine maintenance" in the Port of Baltimore before the collision, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

  • U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Gautier said at a briefing that more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil and cargo found on the ship contained hazardous materials, but posed no threat to public health.
  • Homendy said a senior hazmat investigator from the NTSB identified 56 containers of hazardous materials.
  • "That's 764 tons of hazardous materials — mostly corrosives, flammables, and some miscellaneous hazardous materials, class nine hazardous materials, which would include lithium ion batteries," she said.
  • "I did see some containers in the water and some breached significantly on the vessel itself."

Go deeper: What to know about the ripple effects of the Baltimore bridge collapse

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper