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Baltimore Ship’s Crew Trapped Seven Weeks After Bridge Collapse

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Below deck in the big ship’s hull, over two dozen seamen were still on board the Dali on Monday as a controlled explosion shook the vessel. Seven weeks after its collapse, which left six people on the bridge dead and the Dali stranded, the simultaneous blasts drove fragments of Baltimore’s once-iconic Francis Scott Key Bridge into the murky waters of the Patapsco River in Maryland.

The crew and authorities believe that the destruction will signal the start of the end of a protracted procedure that has left the 21 men on board stranded thousands of miles from their homes and cut off from the outside world. However, it’s still uncertain when they’ll be allowed to go back home.

When the 948-foot (289-meter) container ship Dali slammed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, hundreds of tons of steel and cement were sent into the Patapsco, leaving the ship trapped beneath a vast area of shredded metal. The ship was beginning a 27-day voyage from Baltimore to Sri Lanka. Two electrical blackouts rendered equipment inoperable prior to the tragedy, according to a preliminary NTSB investigation, which also mentioned that the ship had two power outages in the ten hours before the accident.

The crew, which consists of 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan, has been prevented from disembarking because of visa requirements, a shortage of shore permits, and concurrent FBI and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations. Notwithstanding the difficulties, the crew stayed on board as officials purposefully destroyed a large section of the bridge that was situated on the ship’s bow with tiny explosive charges.

“They’re part of the ship,” US Coast Guard Admiral Shannon Gilreath said, underscoring the crew’s significance. They are essential to maintaining the ship’s crew and systems. On the ship, they are the most skilled responders.”

It is anticipated that the ship will be refloated this week, but it is yet unknown when it will be able to go the 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) to port.

A Somber Circumstance

The crew was isolated for “a couple of weeks,” according to Joshua Messick, executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center, who also disclosed that the crew’s cell phones were seized by the FBI throughout the course of the inquiry. Their inability to pay their bills, do online banking, or communicate with loved ones has resulted in great suffering due to their isolation.

Unions that represent the sailors have drawn attention to their predicament by highlighting the mental pain of the crew and demanding that their phones be returned as soon as possible. The president of the Seafarers International Union, Dave Heindel, stressed the rights and welfare of the crew and urged authorities to take the families of seafarers into consideration.

Help and Upcoming Actions

Notwithstanding the difficulties, the team has had assistance from a number of groups and people, such as care packages and consoling words from religious leaders. Speaking on behalf of Synergy Marine, the Dali’s management business, Darrel Wilson promised that the crew’s requirements are being satisfied with regular checks on their well-being and shipments of catered Indian food.

Anticipating the future, preparations are in place to provide the crew short respite and emotional support after they are allowed to depart, with neighborhood groups providing activities catered to their interests. The idea is to give them a little break and a taste of the freedom they haven’t had in weeks.

Supporting and safeguarding the well-being of the imprisoned crew is of utmost significance while attempts to resolve this difficult situation continue. The path ahead may still be unclear due to continuing investigations and logistical challenges, but the will to reconnect these sailors with their families is unrelenting.

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