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Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Dali vessel owner declares general average

Photo: USCG Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Giles USCG officials survey Baltimore bridge wreckage on container ship Dali
Grace Ocean the Singapore-based owners of the Maersk chartered Dali, which ran into Baltimore’s Francis Key Bridge killing six workers and demolishing the crossing, declared general average on Saturday.

Baltimore port has been closed since the 10,000 teu vessel lost power as it exited the port via the Patapsco River on 26 March, Maersk’s partner MSC confirmed the decision to declare general average on 12 April.

In a company statement MSC said: “No indication is communicated so far as [to] when and where their [Grace Ocean’s] vessel will be berthed and discharged, but this decision indicates that the owners expect the salvage operations to result in high extraordinary costs for which they expect contribution from all salvaged parties under general average.”

MSC added that the general adjuster, Richards Hogg Lindley (RHL) of London, have said all containers will remain under their control “until security arrangements have been made with the average adjusters, both for general average and salvage”.

Meanwhile, RHL are urging cargo owners to get in touch as a matter of urgency to declare their cargo, particularly those containers that are transporting consolidated cargoes with the company saying that it needs to identify all the individual shipments through bills of lading and freight descriptions.

However, shippers remain very unhappy with being forced to pay general average, in what they say is an antiquated system of payments that harks back to the early days of trading.

James Hookham, MD at the Global Shippers’ Forum, said that shippers will have lost cargo as the bridge collapsed while others will see consignments delayed or refrigerated freight deteriorate as the vessel has languished beneath the steel wreckage of the bridge.

“It causes frustration and anger that this [the accident] is somehow our fault and we’ve got to pay for it,” said Hookham.