City of Baltimore Points Finger at Ship Owner in Bridge Collapse Court Filing: 'A Clearly Unseaworthy Vessel'


The city of Baltimore is suing two companies who they say failed to properly staff and maintain the container ship that knocked into and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge last month.

The bridge came down on March 26 when the ill-fated, Singapore-based MV Dali left Baltimore Harbor and struck one of the structure’s support piers.

Four people were confirmed dead while a month later the bodies of two men presumed killed in the incident have yet to be recovered.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the mayor’s office and the city council sued two companies that they said were responsible for the bridge collapse.

The Dali’s owner, Synergy Marine Pte Ltd, and its operator, Grace Ocean Pte. Ltd, are both based in Singapore.

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Each company was listed as a respondent in the civil suit.

The city alleged in the 16-page filing that the companies were negligent at the very least and acted in a manner that was potentially “criminal” in the days leading up to the disaster.

“None of this should have happened,” the city said of the incident.

Should the owners and operators of the Dali be held liable?

The lawsuit continued, “Reporting has indicated that, even before leaving port, alarms showing an inconsistent power supply on the Dali had sounded. The Dali left port anyway, despite its clearly unseaworthy condition.”

The ship had reportedly suffered electric and fuel issues in the moments before the collision.

Also in the lawsuit, the city noted that the weather conditions on the morning of the incident were calm and that other ships had traveled under the bridge without incident for decades.

“There were no high winds, visual obstructions, or any reason to believe disaster was about to occur when, at 12:45 a.m., local time, on March 26, 2024, the container ship Dali left its dock in the Port of Baltimore, and began sailing toward the Chesapeake Bay,” the suit said.

After noting the bridge was in place for five decades without experiencing such a catastrophic incident, the suit added there was “nothing about March 26, 2024, that should have changed that.”

“But Petitioners, Grace Ocean Private Limited and Synergy Marine Pte Ltd saw fit to put a clearly unseaworthy vessel into the water,” the city claimed.

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Citing alleged failures in the “maintenance and repairs” of the vessel, elected officials in Baltimore attributed the deadly disaster to “carelessness, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness, and as a result of the unseaworthiness of the Vessel.”

The city also accused both companies that were responsible for ensuring the MV Dali operated safely and within industry standards also staffed the ship with an “incompetent crew.”

The lawsuit said the companies’ “actions were grossly and potentially criminally negligent. In no way should their liability be limited.”

The city of Baltimore is seeking to recoup economic losses, payment for the damages incurred during the collision, legal costs, and unspecified punitive damages — claiming the loss of the bridge harmed the city and region economically.

While Baltimore is suing the two companies they say are responsible for the Key Bridge collapse, the FBI announced last week that it had opened up a criminal investigation into the matter.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.