Cargo ship that caused Baltimore bridge collapse has history of issues

BALTIMORE, Md. (DC News Now) — The cargo ship that caused the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has had a troubled past including a previous collision at a port in Belgium in 2016, according to officials.

Synergy Marine, the operator of the Dali vessel, and the owner, Grace Ocean Private Ltd., have been sued multiple times in recent years for allegations of negligence and worker injuries, records showed.

Maryland officials said the Dali ship bound for a week-long voyage to Singapore lost power and slammed into the bridge around 1:30 a.m., sending vehicles and pieces of the bridge into the water below.

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In an email, Elke Verbeelen, a spokesperson for the Port of Antwerp in Belgium, told DC News Now that Dali made several calls to the port of Antwerp between 2015 and 2019. On July 11, 2016, there was “a collision with the MS Dali in which a quay wall was damaged,” she said.

“After an accident, an investigation will always be conducted by independent experts to determine the damage,” she stated. “In this case, it was conducted by the nautical commission.”

Verbeelen said that if an incident happens, “a ship can only leave the port after experts have determined that it can sail safely.”

She said that she could not comment any further on the case.

Records show that the owner and operator of the vessel have faced several suits as well.

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A 2019 lawsuit was brought against the Singapore-based companies that own the ship after an Oregon man suffered several broken bones when a rope ladder snapped.

Another lawsuit was filed that same year for a Texas worker who was injured when a hatch prematurely opened. Then in 2021, a longshoreman in Georgia sued when a handrail collapsed. The three lawsuits were settled out of court, records showed.

There was a fourth lawsuit but records show it was dismissed. That case showed a Port of Houston worker pinned under some metal pipes.

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