The Captain of the Port of Baltimore has established the Fort Carroll Temporary Alternate Channel. This third temporary channel is on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and will provide limited access for commercially essential vessels.

This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel. The third temporary channel is marked with government-lighted aids to navigation and will be limited to transit at the discretion of the Captain of the Port (COTP). It has a controlling depth of 20 feet (about 6 metres), a 300-foot (91-metre) horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 135 feet (41 metres).

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‘This additional channel increases the types of vessels able to transit inbound and outbound the port of Baltimore,’ says US Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell, COTP and Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024. ‘We estimate facilitating approximately fifteen per cent of pre-collapse commercial activity. Everyday, members of the Key Bridge Response Unified Command are working tirelessly to complete the steps necessary to support full access to the Fort McHenry channel. The opening of this third channel represents continuous progress towards this overarching objective.’

The current 2000-yard (1800-metre) safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect and is intended to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative.

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Scott Key Bridge collapse

On 26 March, the container ship Dali left the Port of Baltimore headed for Colombo. Shortly after departure, the ship lost propulsion and allided with the Scott Key Bridge, which subsequently collapsed. The crew were reported safe, but eight road workers were working on the bridge when it collapsed. Two were rescued from the water, the bodies of two more were recovered soon after. A third body was recovered on 5 April and a fourth on 14 April. Two remain missing and are presumed dead.

Picture (top): The Fort Carroll Temporary Alternate Channel, depicted in green, has a controlling depth of 20 feet, a 300-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 135 feet, and will facilitate additional commercially essential vessel traffic through the port of Baltimore (infographic courtesy of Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command).

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