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Ship that hit Francis Scott Key Bridge experienced power outages 10 hours before crash, NTSB report says

The transport ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in March experienced two power outages while docked, 10 hours before the collision that toppled part of a bridge span, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In addition to the two power outages while the ship was in port, there were two power outages in the moments before the accident, causing the ship’s water main to shut down, according to the NTSB. The crew was unable to regain propulsion before hitting the deck, according to the report.

PHOTO: In this aerial view, a steel truss from the destroyed Francis Scott Key Bridge that held the container ship Dali in place was detached from the ship using a controlled detonation of explosives in Baltimore, Maryland, on 13 May 2024.

In this aerial view, a steel truss from the destroyed Francis Scott Key Bridge that held the container ship Dali in place was detached from the ship using a controlled detonation of explosives in Baltimore, Maryland, May 13, 2024 .

Puce Somodevilla/Getty Images

Federal investigators say fuel tests have revealed no irregularities and are now focusing the investigation on the ship’s electrical system.

Power outages before departure

The M/V Dali experienced two power outages on March 25 while the Sri Lanka-based vessel was under maintenance at the Seagirt Marine Terminal in the Port of Baltimore, according to the report.

A crew member mistakenly closed an in-line engine exhaust damper for one of the ship’s four diesel generators, which prevented engine exhaust from exiting the ship, according to the NTSB. This, in turn, caused the engine to stall and the diesel generators to shut down, according to the report.

When Dali’s systems detected the loss of power, another generator started, according to the NTSB report.

The teams managed to bring the first generator back online. However, a second failure occurred when “insufficient fuel pressure caused (the second generator)’s speed to decrease and its circuit breaker…opened,” causing another failure, according to the NTSB.

After crews were able to reopen the exhaust damper of the first faulty generator, it automatically restarted and power was restored, according to the report.

Power outages occurred moments before the crash

The Dali struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge over Baltimore Harbor at 1:28 a.m. ET on March 26, causing part of a bridge span to collapse in the early morning of March 26 after experiencing two failures current. The first power outage caused the Dali’s engine and propeller to shut down, according to the report.

PHOTO: Salvage crew members work on the deck of the freighter Dali as they work to free it into the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, May 10, 2024.

Salvage crew members work on the deck of the freighter Dali as they work to free it into the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, May 10, 2024.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The report reveals that the Dali lost power twice on the night of the incident as it was leaving port.

The first loss of power shut down the main engine, according to the NTSB. The crew was able to restore power, but the ship lost power again moments later as it approached the bridge, according to the NTSB.

The crew was able to regain power but could not regain propulsion, according to the report.

“The NTSB is still investigating the electrical configuration following the initial power outage at the port and the potential impacts on events that occurred during the accident voyage,” the report states.

PHOTO: A file photo shows the freighter Dali, which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse in Baltimore, MD, April 4, 2024.

A file photo shows the freighter Dali, which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, April 4, 2024.

Nathan Howard/Reuters/FILE

According to the NTSB, there were no reported incidents of power outages while the Dali was docked in the ports of Newark and Norfolk during its recent voyage to the United States.

Video of the incident showed the Dali’s lights going out and smoking coming from the ship before it crashed.

Recovery, investigation continues

Crews on board were able to notify authorities of the malfunction, giving them time to close the bridge to oncoming traffic before the accident. However, six men who were working on the bridge were unable to get off and were killed.

PHOTO: Smoke rises following a detonation of explosives to free the container ship Dali, after it was trapped following its collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, MD, on 13 May 2024.

Smoke rises following a detonation of explosives to free the container ship Dali after it was trapped following its collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, May 13 2024.

Léa Millis/Reuters

The accident affected entry into Baltimore Harbor for weeks, with debris blocking the entry of other ships.

The investigation and recovery efforts continue. The final NTSB report detailing the cause of the incident could take up to two years.

The Dali remained stuck at the crash site, but recovery teams made progress this week after setting off controlled explosions on Monday to remove the section of deck that was attached to the boat.

ABC News

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