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Sreelakshmi H K
March 27, 2024

The Impact of the Baltimore Bridge Collision on Shipping and Logistics

Uncover the impact of the Baltimore Bridge collision on shipping with insights and a list of affected vessels. Stay updated with essential information to manage the situation.
Baltimore bridge collision impact on shipping and list of affected vessels

On Tuesday, March 26th, the Francis Scott Key Bridge at the mouth of the Patapsco River faced an unexpected collision. The incident involved the Dali, a container vessel flying the Singaporean flag, which collided with a bridge support tower around 1:30 a.m. (0530 GMT).

The Dali, with a capacity of 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) containers, was departing from the Port of Baltimore en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka, when the collision occurred. The vessel was carrying 4,679 TEUs at the time, nearly half its total capacity. Managed by Synergy Marine Group and chartered by Maersk at the time of the incident, the Dali's collision prompted immediate rescue operations.

In response to the incident, Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency, leading to the closure of the Port of Baltimore to all ship traffic. This closure is expected to affect the operations of one of the busiest ports on the U.S. East Coast, disrupting traffic flow in and out of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay.

Efforts to clear the wreckage and restore shipping lanes are expected to take several weeks, underscoring the magnitude of the disruption caused by the collision.

Port of Baltimore - Importance

In 2023, the Port of Baltimore facilitated the passage of over $80 billion worth of cargo, with a significant portion comprising automobiles and agricultural equipment. Renowned as the busiest port in the United States for car shipments, it stands as a pivotal destination, boasting the highest volume of car and light truck deliveries nationwide last year.

According to statistics from the Maryland Port Administration:

  • Approximately 750,000 vehicles were processed through the port last year. Notable companies utilizing the port include Nissan, Ford, Stellantis, Toyota, GM, Volvo, and Volkswagen.
  • Serving as the largest U.S. port by volume for farming and construction machinery, as well as agricultural imports such as salt and sugar, the facility managed 1.3 million tons of farm and construction machinery, surpassing all other U.S. ports.
  • In 2023, the port ranked as the second busiest for coal exports.
  • The port handles approximately one-tenth of the container volume passing through New York and New Jersey ports.
  • Key exports from Baltimore encompass coal, natural gas, aerospace components, construction machinery, agricultural products, and soybeans.

Overall, the port facilitated the handling of 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo valued at $80 billion, securing its position as the nation's ninth busiest port.

Impact of Port of Baltimore Closure on Shipping

The temporary closure of the Port of Baltimore is poised to have a notable impact on shipping, particularly within the automotive industry. Here's a breakdown of the anticipated effects:

Automotive Industry Disruption

  • Leading automobile manufacturers such as GM and Ford rely on the Port of Baltimore to export vehicles produced in North America to European markets. With the port closed, automobile companies will need to divert their shipments to alternative ports like those in New Jersey or Virginia.
  • Rerouting efforts could result in additional transportation and handling costs, potentially leading to higher expenses for automotive companies. Moreover, the diversion may cause delays in product delivery, affecting supply chain efficiency.
  • Many shipments to the Port of Baltimore originate from countries like Japan, Mexico, and Germany. While rerouting deliveries from Mexico and Germany to other East Coast ports may not cause substantial delays, transferring Japanese imports to West Coast facilities could present more significant challenges and disruptions, according to industry experts.

Impact on Alternate Ports

  • Alternative ports chosen to handle the diverted shipments will experience an influx of cargo volumes. While these ports should have the capacity to manage the additional loads, the sudden increase in activity may lead to congestion and delays, particularly in handling import shipments.
  • Potential congestion and delays at alternate ports could impact freight rates, especially on routes connecting Asia to the U.S. East Coast and transatlantic shipping lanes. 
  • Rerouting to alternate ports also means an increase in volume for other modes of transportation, such as rail and road, which must accommodate the additional cargo surge.

Maersk has issued a notice advising that access to the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore is currently not feasible due to the damage sustained by the bridge and resulting debris. Consequently, Maersk has decided to exclude Baltimore from all services for the foreseeable future.

For cargo already in transit, Maersk will omit the port of Baltimore and instead discharge the cargo at nearby ports. From these alternative ports, options for utilizing overland transportation to reach the final destination will be available.

List of Potentially Affected Vessels

At Portcast, we have developed a control tower dashboard for our clients to provide them with real-time updates and notify them of potential delays in vessel schedules caused by the incident and the resulting impact on their containers. In our commitment to supporting the broader logistics community, we have this live list where you can access the vessels destined for the Port of Baltimore within an ETA of 15 days and are likely to be affected by the situation. 


If you need help determining the status of your shipments that could be impacted by this incident, please don't hesitate to contact us.‍

As we remain vigilant in monitoring the situation and offering ongoing updates to support the logistics community, our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragic incident.



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