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Baltimore bridge crash causes supply chain concerns

28 Mar 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

BBC: Concerns have been raised of a “ripple effect” on global supply chains after a container ship, that was heading towards Sri Lanka, crashed into a bridge in the US city of Baltimore.

The ship, named the Dali, hit a support column of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning, causing it to collapse.

The bridge spanned the entrance to the Port of Baltimore, the busiest port in the US for car exports and the ninth-busiest overall.
Six people are missing presumed dead.

Officials have said that maritime traffic through the port - which last year amounted to more than 47 million tonnes of foreign cargo - will be suspended “until further notice”.
The suspension could have a “significant ripple effect on global supply chains”, Marco Forgione, Director General at The Institute of Export and International Trade, told the BBC.
More than 750,000 cars and vehicles passed through Baltimore in the last year, he told Radio 4’s The World Tonight.
These include the US, UK and EU brands such as General Motors, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Fiat and Audi.

Baltimore is the busiest US port for car shipments and also the largest US port by volume for handling farm and construction machinery.

It is also the second biggest port for US coal exports.

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said at a briefing there was “no question that this will be a major and protracted impact to supply chains”.

“It’s too soon to offer estimates on what it will take to clear the channel and reopen the port,” he said.
However, Baltimore is also one of the smallest container ports in the north-east US, handling 265,000 containers in the fourth quarter of last year, according to container shipping expert Lars Jensen.
By contrast, the Port of New York and New Jersey handled about two million containers in that same period and Norfolk Port in Virginia handled 850,000.
The flow of containers to Baltimore can probably be redistributed to bigger ports, Jensen said.

Initially there were concerns that liquified natural gas (LNG) exports could be affected but Cove Point LNG terminal on Chesapeake Bay, which typically exports about 500,000 tonnes of LNG per month to markets, including the UK and the EU, said its operations had not been hit by the bridge collapse.

President Biden told reporters that the US government would “move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible” but added that the process was going to “take some time”.

As well as maritime traffic, the Port of Baltimore is directly responsible for some 15,000 jobs and supports an estimated 140,000 more.

Following the accident, Danish shipping giant Maersk, whose cargo the Dali was carrying, said it would be “omitting Baltimore on all our services for the foreseeable future”.