This March 26, the 984.3ft-long (300m) Singapore-flagged cargo vessel Dali reportedly lost power while transiting out of Baltimore Harbor and struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, resulting in the bridge collapsing and damage to the vessel. 

This was a significant event in terms of loss of life and economic impact: six individuals working on the bridge at the time of the collision remain missing and are presumed dead; beyond the damage to the bridge, the Port of Baltimore, a major east coast port, remains closed. Search and rescue operations continue as this article was posted. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a team to investigate the bridge’s collapse.

At this still early point, it appears the container ship apparently suffered a “total blackout” of engine and electrical power, according to Clay Diamond, executive director of the American Pilots Association. Crew responses prior to impact included issuing a “Mayday” prior to impact and letting go the ship’s anchors in the confined waters. Without any investigation report or other official documents as reference, the pilot and crew appeared to have completed all coordinated actions within their capacity – offering one early lesson learned on the importance of bridge resource management training and like actions.  

NTSB investigators had no update available on the incident as of the afternoon of March 27. 

The Dali’s collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge comes at a time when there have been improvements in global maritime safety. There were 38 large ships totally lost in 2022, a decline from 59 in 2021, according to latest data from Allianz. And Safety & Shipping Review 2023 reports improvements in maritime safety have been significant over the past 10 years. 

These favorable trends aside, the Dali incident is a stark reminder of the still-unforgiving nature of the marine domain. To that end, Halldale Group continues to report on and inform its followers about trends and programs that seek to improve training and safety across the civil aviation, defense and adjacent safety-critical sectors, including the maritime community. One recent article provided another data point on the community’s interest in embracing artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and other technologies to bolster its mariners’ learning programs.

The challenges and requirements to enhance training across the maritime domain, from shipboard settings to the port operation environment are unique and persistent. While crews onboard a ship often have different nations of birth and speak different languages, ship owners, operating companies and other industry stakeholders continue to seek efficiencies through crewing reductions and like strategies.

Affordable, effective, advanced training strategies provide the commercial maritime industry with opportunities to obtain more efficient and safer operating environments for individual mariners and crews.

Halldale Group looks forward to reporting on this industry’s progress in this regard.  

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