Why the Crew Is Still Stuck Aboard the Ship That Totaled the Baltimore Bridge

For more than two weeks now, the crew of the shipping vessel that collided with Baltimore's Francis Scott Key bridge has remained on board — leading many to wonder why.

In emailed statements, representatives from the Key Bridge response team and the Baltimore International Seafarers' Center, which provides religious and social services for sailors, explained that the anchorage the sailors aboard the Dali ship are experiencing right now is all part of a day's job.

"The ship is still considered a working vessel," Rev. Joshua Messick, the executive director of the Seafarers' Center, told Futurism. "It’s not that they have not been allowed off, but they are working in tandem with the agencies involved in the recovery/cleanup effort."

A representative from the Maryland Port Authority's official Key Bridge response team echoed Messick's sentiments.

The Dali crew, as the spokesperson told us, "is still engaged in maintaining the current status of the ship, supporting the Unified Command mission operations, and cooperating with the ongoing investigation."

As the same representative told Futurism in a previous email exchange, the Dali crew was "prepared for a 35-day voyage and have ample supplies on board to support them" — though notably, that 35-day voyage would have included their return to South Asia, where the ship and its crew hail from. (If the ship needs to remain in Baltimore beyond that time window, it's not clear what will become of the crew.)

While anchored in the Baltimore Harbor, the crew of the ship that collided with the Key Bridge at the end of March have, as the response team told us for our previous story about their current status, had access to "mental health resources, religious accommodation, and morale-boosting activities," presumably to deal with both the extended isolation in foreign waters and the fallout from the crash, which resulted in the deaths of six migrant workers who'd been on the bridge at the time.

"We are maintaining an open line of communication with the crew via their ship’s representative," the Key Bridge response representative told Futurism earlier in the week, "and they appear in good spirits and health."

Although one crew member was airlifted off the ship to get medical care following the crash, they were returned soon after — and as Messick, the Seafarer's Center executive director, told us, coordinating further shore leave would be "difficult" even in better circumstances.

"This is still an active investigation with a ship that is not currently berthed at a place with direct access to the shore," the reverend told us. "Also, to leave the ship at any time a seafarer needs a US visa and a shore pass issued by the [Coast Guard]. I’m not aware of the current status of the seafarers’ credentials."

"It’s not that they are being refused shore leave, but the present conditions are not conducive to it," Messick continued. "A seafarer working a ship at anchorage is not able to enjoy shore leave, and this is much the same situation."

It's still unclear when the Singapore-based ship or its crew, most of whom hail from India or Sri Lanka, will be able to return home — which means that for the time being, they remain stuck in the Baltimore Harbor.

More on the Key Bridge disaster: Crew Still Stranded on Ship Two Weeks After Knocking Down Baltimore Bridge