The trusses and roadway of the Key Bridge can be seen on the front of the Dali, a container ship, in the Patapsco River on Tuesday. (Maryland National Guard photo / CC BY-ND 2.0)

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26 claimed the lives of six construction workers and blocked Baltimore Harbor. As recovery efforts and work to reopen the harbor continue, many businesses dependent on the harbor and shipping have begun to assess the impact this will have on their operations and are beginning to develop workarounds.

The tragedy unfolded after the Singapore-flagged cargo ship Dali appeared to lose power as it approached the bridge. The ship drifted into one of the bridge’s support structures at a speed of 8 knots, according to Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, who discussed details of the collapse during a press conference.

“The preliminary investigation points to an accident, we haven’t seen any credible evidence of a terrorist attack,” Moore said.

Later in the day, President Joe Biden said it was his intent that the federal government would pay for reconstruction of the bridge, pending Congressional approval.

Officials in charge of the response effort suspended search and rescue operations at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and transitioned to recovery operations, with the missing workers presumed dead.

Workarounds

The Port of Baltimore issued a statement on March 26 declaring vessel traffic into and out of the port suspended until further notice.

“This does not mean the Port of Baltimore is closed,” the statement clarified. “Trucks are being processed within our marine terminals.”

The Domino Sugar refinery is one of the largest operations in the Baltimore Harbor dependent on shipping.

Peter C. O’Malley, spokesperson for Domino’s parent company ASR Group, said Domino Sugar expects no short-term impact to its Baltimore operations.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims,” company officials said in a statement. ‘We also commend the first responders who aided survivors and continue the search and rescue operation.

According to the statement, the Baltimore Refinery has six to eight weeks of raw sugar supply on hand with a ship currently discharging at the refinery’s dock and another that finished unloading on March 25.

“ASR Group also owns a network of production facilities and has warehouses across the U.S. that all currently have healthy inventories of finished products and can be utilized if necessary,” ASR Group officials said.

Amazon operates two fulfillment center warehouses in Baltimore, the BW12 on Broening Highway and BW15 on Holabird Avenue.

“Our thoughts are with those impacted by the bridge collapse and the first responders assisting in the rescue and recovery efforts,” said Richard Rocha, Amazon spokesperson. “We’re assessing the immediate and future impacts to our employees and delivery partners, as well as the surrounding community and will make any adjustments to our operations that are needed. We also stand ready to support the community in any way we can.”

Cruises impacted

Carnival Legend, a Carnival Cruise Line ship whose home port is located in Baltimore Harbor, is currently at sea and will divert to Norfolk, Va. to disembark passengers on March 31. A complimentary bus service will bring guests back to Baltimore.

According to a company statement, Carnival Legend’s next seven-day itinerary on March 31 will operate from and return to Norfolk. Guests on the current and upcoming cruises are being informed of this change.

Carnival will temporarily relocate its Baltimore operations to Norfolk for the duration of recovery and remediation work, said Carnival spokesman Matt Lupoli.

 “Our thoughts remain with the impacted families and first responders in Baltimore,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We appreciate the pledge made by President Biden to dedicate all available resources to reopen Baltimore Harbor to marine traffic as soon as possible. As those plans are finalized, we will update our future cruise guests on when we will return home to Baltimore, but in the meantime, we appreciate the quick response and support from officials in Norfolk.”

Annapolis-based Watermark, which operates sightseeing cruises and a water taxi service, also operates vessels out of its Baltimore location.

“We don’t know at this time if the collapse will affect our operations,” said Alex Knoll, spokesperson for Watermark. “The vessels located at our operations center in Baltimore are all out of winterization and can be made available to provide support if we are called on to do that. At this point we are watching to see what effect the collapse might have and what the timeline is, and we’re all a little bit horrified at what has happened.”