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Maritime

N.C. Ports Officials React To Baltimore Bridge Collapse

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Mar 26, 2024
N.C. State Ports Authority Executive Director Brian Clark released a statement Tuesday regarding a Baltimore bridge collapse after a collision with a cargo vessel. (File photo)
After a container vessel crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday morning, N.C. State Ports Authority Executive Director Brian Clark is assuring the community that a similar event is unlikely to happen here.

In a statement released Tuesday, Clark said cargo ships do not pass under bridges to enter or exit ports in Wilmington or Morehead City. The N.C. State Ports Authority received multiple inquiries about how its vessels navigate passage under bridges, Clark said. The Port of Wilmington is located downstream of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, meaning ships do not need to pass underneath the bridge to get to the port. 

A 984-foot-long cargo vessel departing from the Port of Baltimore lost power, causing the crash and subsequent collapse of Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. Two people have been pulled from the river with at least six more construction workers believed to be missing. Multiple cars were on the bridge at the time of the collapse, according to coverage by CNN. 

"Our thoughts are with the Port of Baltimore, the community, those directly impacted and the first responders still engaged in the important search and rescue work,” Clark said in the release. “We are monitoring the situation and are in close communication with our various partners, customers and port users as the situation continues to develop.”

The collapse blocked passage to and from the Port of Baltimore, the nation’s ninth-largest port by total dollar value of cargo, through the Patapsco River. It is unclear how cargo headed for the Port of Baltimore will be rerouted or stalled until the wreckage can be cleared. Clark said N.C. Ports remain open and his team will work to support additional cargo diverted from Baltimore. 

“Customers are now evaluating their supply chain options and NC Ports stands ready to assist and support the larger supply chain network as needed,” Clark said in his statement. “We, along with our federal and state agency partners, are committed to continually evaluating the safe movement of goods and vessels in and out of our facilities.”
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