Timeline: NTSB details moments before cargo ship crashes on Baltimore Bridge

Tampa, Fla. (WFLA) — The National Transportation Safety Board detailed during a news conference Wednesday night what is believed to have happened in the moments after a freighter crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the bridge to collapse into the water.

The NTSB obtained six hours of Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) data from midnight to 6 a.m. on the day of the accident. The VDR shows a basic snapshot of what’s happening with the ship’s speed, heading, RPM and audio from the crew.

According to the NTSB, VDRs are required to record 30 days of history. Six hours of information were immediately released to investigators and the rest will be available later.

NTSB officials boarded the ship to retrieve information from its electronics and papers and to interview the captain and other crew members, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said during a news conference. He said 23 people including two pilots were on board when the ship crashed.

The ship was carrying 56 containers of hazardous materials, including corrosives, flammables and lithium ion batteries, Homendi said. He added that there were violations in some containers and a sheen on water from those materials would be conducted by the authorities.

The NTSB has released the following timeline of events, which is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation progresses (all times ET):

  • 12:39 am: The vessel departed from Sigert Marine Terminal
  • 1:07 am: Vessel entered Fort McHenry Channel
  • 1:24 am: The vessel is traveling at about 9.2 mph on a heading of 141
  • 1:24:59 am: Sensor data recording stops, but audio recording continues
  • 1:26:02 am: Sensor data recording has resumed
  • 1:26:39 am: The pilot made a radio call for tugs to assist
  • 1:27:04 am: Pilot orders to drop an anchor
  • 1:27:25 am: The pilot radios that all power is lost and asks to close the bridge
  • 1:29 am: The ship was traveling at a speed of less than 8 miles per hour
  • 1:29:33 am: The sounds recorded by the VDR are consistent with the crash, and the dash cameras show that the bridge lights went out.
  • 1:29:39 am: The pilot reports to the Coast Guard that the bridge is down

Homendi added that the bridge was in satisfactory condition, and that its last critical fracture inspection was in May 2023. A fracture-critical bridge has no redundancy, and if any part of the structure fails, the whole thing fails, he said.

The bridge was built in the late 1970s. Modern bridges are built with redundancy, Homendi said.

The sudden loss of a highway carrying 30,000 vehicles a day and the disruption of an important shipping port would not only affect thousands of dockworkers and commuters but also the US consumers who could experience it. Effect of Shipping Delays.

The Port of Baltimore is a busy gateway along the East Coast for coal and farm equipment along with new vehicles made in Germany, Mexico, Japan and the UK.

Vessels entering and leaving the port are suspended indefinitely. Windward Maritime, a maritime risk-management firm, said its data showed ships waiting to go to a port, some anchored outside Baltimore or nearby Annapolis.

Speaking at a White House news conference, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the Biden administration was focused on reopening the port and rebuilding the bridge, which was completed in 1977, but he avoided a timeline for those efforts. He noted that the original bridge took five years to complete.

Homendy said the NTSB investigation could take 12 to 24 months, but during that time the NTSB could issue emergency safety recommendations. A preliminary report should come in two to four weeks.

“This is a huge undertaking for an investigation,” Homendi said. “This is a very sad incident.”

From 1960 to 2015, there were 35 The big bridge collapsed Worldwide due to ship or barge collisions, according to the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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