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Baltimore bridge’s $81 BILLION trade crisis: Ship crash sparks chaos for US goods as collapse blocks ninth-largest hub for foreign goods that handles 52 million tons a year – with 10 vessels stuck in harbor

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Baltimore’s collapsed bridge has brought the country’s ninth-biggest foreign trading port to a standstill with 10 ships trapped inside.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was knocked over when Singaporean container ship Dali crashed into one of the support columns about 1.30am on Tuesday.

Rescue teams were trying to pluck eight people out of the water who were on the bridge when it dramatically collapsed into the Patapsco River.

The Port of Baltimore is shut down indefinitely during the rescue and salvage operations, which could take days or weeks.

‘We don’t have any updates because our exclusive focus is on saving lives,’ Maryland officials said of how long shipping would be distrupted.

Some 10 ships are stuck inside the port unable to leave as the bridge spans the only route in and out of the harbor where the port is located.

Baltimore handled 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo last year worth about $80.8 billion, ranking ninth in the US for both metrics and records for the port.

Another record was 1.1 million 20ft equivalent unit containers that arrived or left the port last year.

The port handled 847,158 cars and light trucks, the most in the US for the 13th year in a row, and 1.3 million tons of roll on/roll off farm and construction machinery.

Cruises carrying more than 444,000 passengers departed from the port, which is a major destination for Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean cruises.

The port was the second busiest for coal exports last year, with Its eight dry bulk terminals exporting 22 million tonnes of coal last year and small amounts of other metals and minerals.

Stunning images show the mangled wreckage of the bridge hours after it was struck by the cargo ship

Stunning images show the mangled wreckage of the bridge hours after it was struck by the cargo ship 

Other top export commodities by weight in 2022 were liquefied natural gas, wastepaper, ferrous scrap, and automobiles/light trucks.

Cove Point, which is upstream from the bridge, is the nearest LNG terminal. ICIS ship tracking data show Cove Point typically exports about 500,000 tonnes per month.

It is the busiest U.S. port for car shipments, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration.

The port handles imports and exports for major automakers including Nissan, Toyota,  General Motors, Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volkswagen, including luxury models for Audi, Lamborghini, and Bentley.

It is also the largest American port by volume for handling farm and construction machinery, as well as agricultural products.

Imports of agricultural products totalled 3 million tonnes last year, including 1.2 million of sugar and salt, as well as gypsum, fertilisers and forest products.

More than 40 ships remained inside Baltimore port, including small cargo ships, tug boats and pleasure craft.

Marine Traffic website shows all the ships trapped in the harbor downstream from the bridge. Most of them are small boats, including those in the rescue

Marine Traffic website shows all the ships trapped in the harbor downstream from the bridge. Most of them are small boats, including those in the rescue

A closer view of the harbor shows several large ships including cargo vessels moored inside with nowhere to go

A closer view of the harbor shows several large ships including cargo vessels moored inside with nowhere to go

Closer to the bridge (bottom right) shows more large ships stuck inside

Closer to the bridge (bottom right) shows more large ships stuck inside

At least 30 other ships signalled their destination was Baltimore, but were not able to go inside.

‘This is going to be catastrophic for many reasons,’ one Baltimore resident told WZJ. 

‘Number one, the harbor’s blocked. Number two, we’re not going to get any more new car deliveries at this time. 

‘Amazon is just on the other side of the river and you can forget your same-day, next-day delivery packages. 

‘The beltway is going to be a parking lot. The tunnels are going to be over-jammed.’

Georgios Hatzimanolis, who analyzes global shipping for MarineTraffic, said he expects some shipping delays. 

‘We do expect there to be a ripple effect, but it’s a bit too early to say what the impact will be,’ he told the New York Times.

Baltimore It is the deepest harbor in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, closer to the Midwest than other East Coast ports, with five public and 12 private terminals.

It is one of the smallest container ports on the Northeastern seaboard, handling 265,000 containers in the fourth quarter of last year, according to container shipping expert Lars Jensen.

The Port of New York and New Jersey handled around 2 million containers in that same period, and Norfolk Port in Virginia handled 850,000, so the flow of containers to Baltimore can likely be redistributed to bigger ports, Jensen said.



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