The U.S. Navy is sending four large vessels to the Port of Baltimore to help with recovery after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed this week.

On Friday the Navy confirmed that three ships had arrived in Baltimore Harbor to work under the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving to clear parts of the destroyed bridge that are underwater. The effort, under the Coast Guard-led unified command, aims to clear the channel and allow for ships to enter and leave the harbor. 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed Tuesday after the container ship the MV Dali crashed into a support pillar, causing the span of the bridge to collapse into the water. Six construction workers are believed dead from the collapse. 

The three Navy ships currently on the scene are the revolving crane barge the Ferrell, the derrick barge the Chesapeake and the crane barge the Oyster Bay. A fourth barge, with a 400-ton lifting capacity, is expected to arrive at the harbor in the next week.  All four vessels were contracted through Naval Sea Systems Command. They will be focused on lifting pieces of the bridge out of the water and clearing them out to allow ships to use the channel into the Chesapeake Bay. Several ships remain essentially trapped in the harbor due to the debris from the bridge collapse. 

An additional 12 smaller ships, such as dive and crane ones, are also being mobilized by the Navy to assist in clearing and salvage operations. 

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The MV Dali is still stuck in the harbor following the collision. The 985-foot-long ship lost power, according to a mayday call, and then drifted into the bridge support, causing the bridge itself to collapse soon after. Eight construction workers were on the bridge at the time; two were rescued. 

Baltimore’s port is one of the busiest on the east coast and in the world for bulk shipping. The blocked channel is both impacting global trade, while the loss of the bridge is causing issues for commuter traffic in the Baltimore area. Tens of thousands of cars crossed the bridge daily prior to the collapse. 

The Navy barges join the already ongoing salvage and clearing operations being done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard. The Army Corps of Engineers dispatched 1,100 personnel to the site to help with recovery efforts. Earlier this week the Biden administration approved $60 million federal aid for the reconstruction efforts. 

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