Baltimore sues owners and operators of Dali ship, claiming negligence

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Baltimore sues owners and operators of Dali ship, claiming negligence

The city of Baltimore has sued the owner and manager of the Dali container ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge last month, killing six people and disrupting regional trade.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, claims the ship was “clearly unseaworthy” and that the crew was incompetent. It demands the counterpart pay for rebuilding and the billions of dollars the city will lose from the closed port. 

"None of this should have happened," Baltimore attorneys argued in a federal lawsuit.

The suit claims there was "gross negligence, and recklessness” from Grace Ocean Private Limited, the ship’s owner and Synergy Marine Private Limited, manager. 

The Singapore-based owners and managers have already asked a court to limit their liability, BBC news reports

On April 1, Grace Ocean and Synergy Marine petitioned the same federal court in Maryland to cap its responsibility for the incident.

Related article: Baltimore rescue continues, as distributors navigate new East Coast routes

Citing a pre-Civil War maritime law, the pair of companies estimated their liability for the vessel and the cargo's value at $43.6 million. 

The lawsuit further claims that the Dali had been experiencing an inconsistent power supply that was either not investigated or fixed. Despite its alleged unseaworthy condition, the ship set sail anyway, taking a path that is “no stranger to large freighters.”

Regarding its crew, the filing said it was "incompetent, inattentive to its duties and lacked proper training."

Current situation at the Port of Baltimore

On Friday, port officials opened a third temporary channel for boats to enter and exit the corridor, but these channels can only sustain about 15% of pre-collapse commercial activity.

A fourth channel, which will allow most traffic back into the port, is expected to open by the end of the month.

The new channel will be 35 feet deep, a substantial increase over the three other temporary channels established in recent weeks. It puts the cleanup effort slightly ahead of schedule, as officials previously said they had hoped to open a channel of that depth by the end of April.

Officials said salvage crews have now cleared enough debris — over 2,900 tons so far — to open the new channel to “commercially essential vessels” from Thursday until the following Monday or Tuesday. Ships will be required to have a Maryland pilot on board and two tugboats escorting them through the channel.

The passage will then be closed again until roughly May 10 while crews work to remove steel from the Dali and refloat the ship, which will then be guided back into the port, officials added.

The port’s main channel, with a controlling depth of 50 feet, is set to reopen next month after the ship has been removed. That measure should essentially restore marine traffic to normal.

Related articles: Rescue efforts underway after cargo ship crash causes Baltimore bridge collapse

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