Freighter pilot radioed for help before ship hit Baltimore bridge

Freighter pilot radioed for help before ship hit Baltimore bridge

Freighter pilot radioed for help before ship hit Baltimore bridge

Well, black box data is revealing what happened in the moments before the bridge disaster in Baltimore. US investigators say the data shows the ship’s crew desperate attempts to stop the mammoth vessel before it smashed into the bridge. At around 01:26 and 39 seconds, the ship’s pilot made a general VHF radio call for tugs in the vicinity to assist. Around 01:27 and 4 seconds, the pilot ordered the “D” to drop the port anchor and additional ordered additional steering commands. The US National Transportation Safety Board says the first signs of trouble came about four minutes before the crash. Investigators say the sound of multiple alarms sounding on the ship can be heard on the black box recordings. The emergency call for tugboats to help stop the ship and the urgent command to drop an anchor happened just before the ship’s pip reported all power was lost. That warning was likely a lifesaver, giving authorities 90 seconds to stop other vehicles from driving onto the bridge.

The CBC’s Chris Reyes is with us this morning from Baltimore. So, Chris, good morning. What do we know about what is happening at the disaster site today?

Good morning, Hillary. Before I get to that, I know we’ve been here for a couple of days, but I want to situate our viewers once again to exactly where we are. I am standing next to the I-695 Highway, the outer lane of this highway, Hillary, before Tuesday would have led to the Francis Scott Key bridge. But right now, I don’t know if you can see it over my shoulder, what you see is just a ramp leading to nowhere and then the vessel still sitting on the Patapsco River with parts of the bridge sitting on top of it.

So, what is happening today? Well, we know that investigators and engineers will be once again boarding the Del, that is the Singapore-flag cargo ship that rammed into the bridge. They’re going to be interviewing the 21 crew members that are still aboard that vessel. Hillary, this took me a little while to wrap my head around, but those 21 crew members who are foreign nationals, they are still in that vessel on the water right behind me. We’re told they have food, they have provisions, and they are cooperating with investigators.

The other thing that investigators will be doing today, Hillary, will be gathering materials and evidence that they say could be perishable, so it could be destroyed in the days ahead. They’ve requested the vessel’s safety and maintenance records. As you just told our viewers there, they’ve collected the black box. They did tell us yesterday that this voyage data recorder is a pretty simple device, and so they didn’t get as many parameters as you would get from a black box of a plane, for example, but they are gathering the evidence from that device, and they were able to piece together a pretty basic timeline. They also have the cargo manifest of the ship, and what we’ve been told is that some 56 containers contain hazardous materials, so that’s going to complicate some of the work of investigators.

And then what Jennifer Homendy, who’s the NTSB chair, what she said yesterday is that the number one goal is really to just gather materials while they’re here. Have a listen to how she explains it.

“I think it’s really important for folks to understand that we will not analyze any of the information we are collecting. We will not provide any sort of findings, conclusions, or any safety recommendations while on scene. Our entire focus on scene is to collect the perishable evidence.”

And Hillary, instead, what they’re promising is a preliminary report two to four weeks from now.

And as for the search for bodies, I think it’s important to clarify that yesterday this mission moved into the salvage phase.

And what that really means is that the divers that are in the water, that their singular focus was to search for bodies. That’s no longer happening because it’s been determined by those running this investigation that the remaining bodies that are in the water are entangled in the steel and the concrete that’s underwater. That’s not safe for divers. They’re going to have to bring in specialized equipment to start to bring wreckage out of the water, and that’s going to be part of their search for the remaining bodies.

And Chris, I know that you have more details about those victims. We’ll be speaking with you next hour about that, of course, that team of construction workers who were fixing potholes at the time on that bridge. But for now, our Chris Reyes is there for us. Thank you for this. We’ll be speaking again.

The Toronto Post on Google News

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