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Joint Effort to Clear Baltimore Bridge Debris Launches Over Weekend

Multiple Defense Department assets teamed with state, federal and private sector agencies in Baltimore Harbor Saturday to begin removing wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

A small vessel floats nearby large wreckage in a body of water.
Bridge Collapse Response
A Coast Guard Station Crisfield 29-foot response boat-small observes as highly trained demolition crews begin cutting the top portion of the north side of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge into smaller sections for safe removal by crane in the Patapsco River in Baltimore, March 30, 2024. Salvage teams use an exothermic cutting torch to systematically separate sections of the steel bridge, which will be taken to a disposal site.
Photo By: Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Reave
VIRIN: 240330-G-ZP826-7074

"The [Defense Department] continues to support the whole-of-government response in Baltimore. Through the Unified Command, the U.S. Coast Guard is coordinating this effort in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Navy and many others," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters during a meeting today.

Crews of highly trained demolition experts began cutting into the top portion of the collapsed bridge's north side on Saturday, and the Army Corps of Engineers completed a required underwater survey — both necessary steps prior to removal of debris, Singh said.

Meanwhile, Naval Sea Systems Command is aiding Unified Command's efforts to clear out debris and reopen the harbor by contracting out the 1,000-ton lift capacity derrick barge Chesapeake, the 200-ton lift capacity revolving crane barge Ferrell and the 150-ton lift capacity crane barge Oyster Bay. All are on scene in Baltimore Harbor.  

A large crane barge sits in a body of water.
The Chesapeake
The Chesapeake, a 1000-ton lift capacity derrick barge, the Ferrell, a 200-ton lift capacity revolving crane barge and the Oyster Bay, a 150-ton lift capacity crane barge are in Baltimore Harbor. The barges will be used by the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving to remove submerged portions of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The barges, contracted through Naval Sea Systems Command will support the Coast Guard led Unified Command in its effort to clear and re-open the channel.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Hannah Mohr
VIRIN: 240329-N-OG067-2162

An additional, 400-ton lift capacity barge is scheduled to arrive next week, according to a news release distributed this afternoon by Navy public affairs.  

On Sunday, Coast Guard Capt. David O'Connell, the federal on-scene coordinator for Key Bridge Response 2024, announced preparations for the establishment of a "temporary alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vessels," according to a Key Bridge Response 2024 press release. 

"This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the Port of Baltimore," O'Connell said.   

In addition to over 1,000 engineering, construction, contracting and operations specialists with the Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard-led Unified Command's additional components include assets from the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Transportation Authority, the Maryland State Police and a private sector crisis and emergency management consulting firm.    

"[DOD stands] ready to assist in further efforts to provide immediate response, reopen the port, rebuild the bridge and support the people of Baltimore," Singh said.

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