First loaded inbound commercial vessel enters Port of Baltimore

Updated Apr 30, 2024
The container/feeder barge Columbia Freedom
The container/feeder barge Columbia Freedom enters Port of Baltimore
Army Corps of Engineers

The return to normal life at the Port of Baltimore took a step in the right direction Thursday, April 25.

The container/feeder barge Columbia Freedom, was the first inbound commercial vessel through the recently opened Limited Access Channel (LAC), according to the Baltimore District of the Army Corps of Engineers. The LAC, which has a controlling depth of at least 35 feet, a horizontal clearance of 300 feet, and a vertical clearance of 214 feet, is expected to provide passage for a limited number of commercial vessels into the port and a departure opportunity for some deep draft vessels currently unable to leave the harbor since the collapse of the Francis Scott key Bridge March 26.

Normal shipping traffic in and out of the port came to a halt in the early morning hours of March 26 when the container ship Dali lost power and slammed into a bridge support on its way out of the harbor. The bridge collapsed in seconds, killing six workers who were performing maintenance on the bridge's surface. The bodies of four of those workers have been recovered.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been coordinating operations to remove the tons of steel and concrete that fell into the Patapsco River. They have also overseen operations to get the Dali repaired and back on its way to Singapore, its original destination.

While maritime traffic in and out of the port will increase when all of the bridge debris is removed and the primary channel is reopened by the end of May, highway traffic in and around Baltimore continues to be a problem for truckers and commuters alike. The Francis Scott Key bridge carries Interstate 695, a key route for many freight carriers, across the Patapsco River. Its collapse has meant truckers have had to find other routes.