SALVORS working with the Key Bridge Response Unified Command refloated the containership Dali in the port of Baltimore at about 0640 hrs Monday morning US time.

Preparation for the recovery began on Sunday, with the operation timed for high tide in the Patapsco River from 0524 Monday. Ballast that had been taken on board to steady the 9962 TEU Dali in position after the 26 March allision that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge was pumped out, anchors retrieved, and the salvage effort proper got underway.

By 0700 the ship was free of river mud with the assistance of tugs Bridget McAllister, Eric McAllister, Vicki M McAllister, Lynne Moran and Mark Moran and other support vessels, and towed and pushed 2.5 miles to the Seagirt Marine Terminal, from which its ill-fated voyage to Colombo had originally begun.

This milestone allows all pre-collapse deep-draft commercial vessels to enter and exit the Port of Baltimore, the UC said.

“The Unified Command continues to clear the remaining wreckage from the Fort McHenry Federal Channel,” it said in a statement. “We’re pleased to see the successful refloating and moving of Dali today to its new location. We won’t slow down until the channel is fully restored.”

The UC anticipates the operational width of the federal channel will soon be 400 feet wide to a depth of 50 feet.

“With the removal of the 158-foot-wide Dali, UC salvage crews, using crane and barge assets already on site, will work to remove any remaining bridge wreckage. This effort will continue until the federal channel is restored to its original width of 700 feet and all steel below the mudline is removed.

The Maryland Transportation Authority will continue to oversee the removal of the remaining steel and concrete outside of the federal channel.

“This marks the resumption of commercial vessel transits in and out of the Port of Baltimore,” the UC said. “This truly signifies the next chapter in restoring the waterway commerce in this region, which also serves as the economic engine for thousands of workers and their families who depend on commerce traveling through the Port of Baltimore.”

Maryland Port Administrator Jonathan Daniels said around 20 ships are expected to arrive within the next seven days at the port’s public terminals, and the vessel schedule is “extremely strong through the end of the month,” said. He said the first significant return to normalcy is being seen with bookings for PCTCs, which are a hallmark of the port’s regular operations. Unconscionably the Dali’s crew remain on board, where they have been for the full 55 days, and will still not be allowed off even after the refloat as their visas have all expired. Their phones were confiscated as part of authorities’ investigations and they have no contact with family in India.