Who owns the ship that struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore?

The collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday after being struck by a cargo ship has raised questions about who owns and manages the ship, as well as on the potential impact on one the busiest ports in the U.S.

Called the Dali, the vessel that hit the bridge is managed by Synergy Marine Group, a Singapore-based company with a worldwide presence and over 660 vessels under management, according to its website. The group said the ship was operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group and chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk at the time of the incident, which sent vehicles and people tumbling into the Patapsco River.

“We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected,” Maersk said in a statement to CBS News Tuesday, in which it also confirmed the ship was carrying cargo for Maersk customers. The company had no crew or personnel aboard the ship.

The Dali, which can carry up to 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, was carrying nearly 4,700 containers at the time of the collision. It was operated by a 22-person, Indian crew. It was not immediately clear what kind of cargo the ship was carrying. 

Synergy Group’s parent company, Unity Group Holdings International, an investment holding company, was founded in 2008 and is Hong Kong-based. 

Ship chartered by Maersk

The Dali is owned by Grace Ocean Private, another Singapore-based company that provides water transportation services. 

While the incident remains under investigation, the ship lost power before hitting the bridge, according to an unclassified Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency memo reviewed by CBS News. The ship was time charted by Danish container shipping company Maersk at the time of the collision.

Where was the Dali headed?

The outbound ship had left Baltimore and was headed for Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, Synergy Marine Group said in a press release. 

How busy is the Port of Baltimore?

In 2023, the Port of Baltimore handled a record 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo, worth $80 billion, according to the office of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. The port is also a significant provider of local jobs. 

The top port in the U.S. for sugar and gypsum imports, it is the ninth busiest U.S. port by the total volume and value of foreign cargo handled. All vessel traffic into and out of the facility is currently suspended, although the port remains open and trucks continue to be processed within the its terminals, according to a statement release by Port of Baltimore officials. 

What is the potential local economic impact?

Directly, the port supports 15,300 jobs, while another 140,000 in the area are related to port activities. The jobs provide a combined $3.3 billion in personal income, according to a CBS News report. The Port of Baltimore said Tuesday that it is unclear how long ship traffic will be suspended.

The disaster also caused chaos for local drivers. The Maryland Transportation Authority said all lanes were closed in both directions on I-695, with traffic being detoured to I-95 and I-895.

How could the bridge collapse affect consumers and businesses?

Experts say the bridge collapse could cause significant supply chain disruptions.

“While Baltimore is not one of the largest U.S. East Coast ports, it still imports and exports more than 1 million containers each year, so there is the potential for this to cause significant disruption to supply chains,” Emily Stausbøll, a market analyst at Xeneta, an ocean and air freight analytics platform, said in a statement. 

She added that freight services from Asia to the East Coast in the U.S. have already been hampered by drought in the Panama Canal, as well as risks related to conflict in the Red Sea. Nearby ports, including those in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, will be relied on to handle more shipments if Baltimore remains inaccessible. 

Whether ocean freight shipping rates will rise dramatically, potentially affecting consumers as retailers pass along higher costs, will depend on how much extra capacity the alternate ports can handle, Stausbøll said. “However, there is only so much port capacity available and this will leave supply chains vulnerable to any further pressure.”

What other industries could be affected?

A Carnival cruise ship that set off Sunday for the Bahamas had been scheduled to return to Baltimore on March 31. Carnival said Tuesday it is “currently evaluating options for Carnival Legend’s scheduled return on Sunday.” 

The company also has cruises scheduled to set sail from Baltimore through the summer. 

Norwegian Cruise Line last year introduced new routes departing from the Port of Baltimore. Its sailings are scheduled for late this year.  The company did not immediately respond to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment about its plans for the routes following the Key Bridge collapse.

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