The National Transportation Safety Board has released a timeline of events leading to the cargo ship DALI slamming into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday.

The NTSB gleaned the information from the DALI’s voyage data recorder (VDR), which provides six hours of data between 12:00 a.m. EDT and 06:00 a.m. EDT on March 26.

“The VDR data is comprised of audio from both the ship’s bridge as well as recordings of the ship’s VHF (very high frequency) radios,” the NTSB noted. The VDR also recorded ship speed, engine RPM, rudder angle, ship heading, and some alarm information.

The ship departed Seagirt Marine Terminal at approximately 12:39
 a.m. By 1:07 a.m., it had entered the Fort McHenry Channel. By 1:24 a.m., the ship was underway on a true heading of approximately 141 degrees in the Fort McHenry Channel at an indicated speed over ground of approximately 8 knots/9 miles per hour.

Roughly one minute later “numerous aural alarms were recorded on the ship’s bridge audio,” the NTSB reported, adding, “Around the same time, VDR ship system data ceased recording, however, the VDR audio continued to be recorded using the VDR’s redundant power source. Around 01:26:02, the VDR resumed recording ship system data. During this time, there were steering commands and rudder orders on the VDR audio.”


“Around 01:26:39 the ship’s pilot made a general VHF radio call for tugs in the vicinity of the DALI. MDTA data from around this time indicated the pilot association dispatcher phoned the MDTA duty officer regarding the blackout. Around 1:27:04, the pilot commanded the DALI to drop the port anchor and issued additional steering commands,” the NTSB continued. “Around 1:27:25, the pilot issued a radio call over the VHF radio and reported the DALI had lost all power approaching the Key Bridge,” The NTSM stated, adding that at roughly 1:29 a.m. “the ship’s speed over ground was recorded as just under 7 knots/8 miles per hour. From this moment until approximately 1:29:33, VDR audio recorded sounds consistent with the collision with the Key bridge.”

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