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The cargo ship that caused the collapse of the Baltimore bridge experienced a power outage hours before leaving port

BALTIMORE (AP) — Investigators probing the March collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore said in a preliminary report Tuesday that the cargo ship Dali experienced a power outage about 10 hours before leaving Baltimore Harbor while he was under maintenance.

The power outage was caused by a crew member who mistakenly closed an exhaust damper, causing the ship’s engine to stall, according to the report released by the National Transportation Safety Board. The ship lost power again and crashed into one of the bridge’s support columns shortly after leaving port on March 26, causing the bridge to collapse within seconds.

A full investigation could take a year or more, the agency said.

The commission launched its investigation almost immediately after the collapse, which resulted in the deaths of six members of a roadworks crew. Investigators boarded the ship to document the scene and collect evidence, including the ship’s data recorder and information from its engine room, according to board president Jennifer Homendy. Investigators also questioned the captain and crew members.

“Our mission is to determine why something happened, how it happened and to prevent it from happening again,” Homendy said at a news conference days after the disaster.

According to the preliminary report, at 1:25 a.m. on March 26, when the Dali was a little more than a half-mile from the bridge, a main electrical breaker that powered most of the equipment and lighting on the ship fired unexpectedly, causing the ship to sink. lose power and experience a power outage. The main propulsion diesel engine shut down after the pumps lost electrical power. The ship’s crew was able to restore power, then requested assistance from the tugboats and the lead pilot ordered the ship to drop anchor.

A second power outage then occurred and a maritime radio call was issued to warn maritime traffic. The ship then struck a main support pillar of the bridge, causing it to collapse within seconds.

The ship, which was heading from Baltimore to Sri Lanka, issued a rescue alert, giving police just enough time to stop traffic, but not enough to save the workers who were filling potholes on the bridge.

The last bodies of the victims were found last week.

Crews carried out a controlled demolition Monday to break the largest remaining span of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, a major step in freeing the stranded Dali container ship.

The council’s preliminary report released Tuesday likely includes a fraction of the findings that will be presented in its final report, which is expected to take more than a year.

Tests of the ship’s fuel revealed no problems related to its quality, according to the preliminary report.

The FBI also opened a criminal investigation into the circumstances leading to the collapse.

Homendy said the National Transportation Safety Board investigation will examine all aspects of the accident, including what caused the ship to lose power and whether it experienced similar problems before the power outage.

Investigators also planned to look at policies, training practices and other factors that might be relevant. And the design, engineering and condition of the bridge will be studied, she said.

Homendy told a U.S. Senate committee last month that the investigation was focusing on the ship’s electrical system in general.

Homendy said investigators are collecting information about the ship’s engine room and circuit breakers, which she said will “help us tremendously.”

Marcel Muise, lead investigator for the safety committee, previously presented a preliminary timeline compiled from the voyage data recorder including bridge audio and radio exchanges before the collapse. He said experts would review the entire data record of the trip and develop a detailed transcript.


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