More Accusations of Negligence in Key Bridge Collapse

Aerial view of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse
Aerial view of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse | Image by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Following last month’s fatal collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which resulted in six deaths, further accusations of negligence have been directed towards the owner and manager of the vessel.

The bridge collapse, which occurred on March 26, has sparked intense scrutiny and legal action against the Singapore-based companies Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and Synergy Marine Pte Ltd.

The latest development in this ongoing saga unfolded as Baltimore’s mayor and city council filed court papers on April 22, demanding full accountability from the ship’s owner and manager. These legal actions come in response to a joint petition filed by the companies seeking to limit their liability under a pre-Civil War provision of an 1851 U.S. maritime law. This move has raised eyebrows and ire in the community, according to the Associated Press.

In their collaborative petition, the companies aim to limit their liability to around $43.6 million. The estimation of the vessel itself is valued at up to $90 million and was reported to have been carrying over $1.1 million owed income in freight. Additionally, the petitioned liability cap also factors in expenses, including repair costs totaling at least $28 million and salvage expenses reaching roughly $19.5 million, per AP.

The court documents filed by Baltimore’s representatives accuse Grace Ocean and Synergy of negligence, claiming they failed to ensure the Dali was fit for its voyage and properly manned. The legal argument points to a range of issues that, according to the city, should have been addressed to prevent such a catastrophe.

Baltimore authorities claim that prior to departing port, “alarms showing an inconsistent power supply on the Dali had sounded [yet] The Dali left port anyway, despite its clearly unseaworthy condition.”

Furthermore, the city also alleges that the vessel carried an inadequate crew who neglected to adhere to local navigation practices and lacked the necessary skills and training. According to court documents, the owner also supplied the vessel with equipment, systems, and accessories that were not fit for safe operation at sea, reported The Guardian.

The Port of Baltimore, a vital hub for maritime commerce, has been effectively shut down, disrupting supply chains and causing ripple effects throughout the region, according to AP.

Moreover, the tragedy has prompted multiple investigations, including a criminal inquiry by the FBI and a federal probe by the National Transportation Safety Board, as reported by The Dallas Express. These inquiries focus on revealing the fundamental reasons behind the incident, examining factors such as the ship’s electrical system and whether it experienced power issues before departure.

In addition to the legal battles, salvage crews are tirelessly working to remove debris from the Patapsco River, a daunting task that underscores the magnitude of the disaster and the challenges ahead, reported DX.

President Joe Biden recently endorsed the federal government’s coverage of the entire expense of rebuilding the bridge and approved Maryland’s request for $60 million to support initial recovery endeavors, according to reports from The Guardian.

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