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Dali sails out of Baltimore, business returning to port

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 24, 2024

BALTIMORE — After spending two months stuck beneath the wreckage of the bridge it destroyed, and another month docked at Seagirt Marine Terminal, the Dali finally sailed out of Baltimore.

The ship first passed through the Fort McHenry Channel, below where the Ley Bridge once stood. She then sailed underneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge a few hours later, as a crowd of people watched from Sandy Point State Park.

"It was wild. The ship was much bigger than what I expected," Stephen Swann from Davidsonville said. He set up camp in the park this morning to get a front row seat after hearing about the Dali's journey on the news.

Robert Cohen didn't plan his trip to the park around the Dali's departure - he just got lucky.

"I decided this morning to come down here; I haven't been here in probably 35 years,” he said. "The GPS thing took us a different way instead of coming down 97 because I guess they had all this blocked off. Then I saw it. I was like, 'that's pretty wild.'"

The Dali is on the way to Virginia, where about 1,500 cargo containers will be offloaded. She'll stay in Norfolk for continued salvage operations and repairs. On board the ship is a replacement crew that arrived in Baltimore last week, and four of the original crew members, who will immediately return to Baltimore after assisting with the sailing to Virginia.

Eight crew members who were cleared by federal authorities have already arrived home in India and Sri Lanka. Two more training cadets, who were cleared late last week, will join them soon. That leaves 11 - who will remain in Baltimore indefinitely as the litigation continues.

Meanwhile back at the Port of Baltimore, business is returning. That includes American Roll-On/Roll-Off Carrier, or ARC, which resumed its regular calls on the port last week. The company ships household goods, military cargo, agricultural and construction equipment, etc.

"It's seamless. It's like nothing ever happened," Sandy Santianna, vice president of pricing, contracts, & customer service at ARC, told WMAR-2 News' Elizabeth Worthington.

But the impact of the port closure was certainly felt.

“It was devastating at first," Santianna said. "We had a lot of cargo at the terminal that we needed to re-route to different locations. [...] We didn’t calculate our exact financial loss. It’s definitely in the millions of dollars. But we worked with our customers to make sure that stuff got moved to alternate ports as cost-effective as possible."

ARC re-routed most of its business to Georgia. Deciding to return to Baltimore once the port reopened was a no-brainer. Santianna said she was "astonished" by how quickly crews got everything back up and running.

"Baltimore is our largest port in the U.S. Every one of our ships calls Baltimore twice. It's the first port of call inbound from Europe and it's the last port of call outbound from Europe. We have about 150 port calls every year in the Port of Baltimore," Santianna said.

As we look towards rebuilding the Key Bridge, one of the priorities will be keeping the Port of Baltimore open as much as possible throughout the construction, which is expected to start next year.