'Morale Has Dipped' Among Crew Stuck on Cargo Ship

They haven't been allowed to leave the Dali since March 26 Baltimore bridge disaster
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2024 6:00 AM CDT
In Baltimore, Crew Is Still Trapped on Cargo Ship
Explosive charges are detonated to bring down sections of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the container ship Dali on Monday, May 13, 2024, in Baltimore.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

On Monday, crews detonated explosives to free the Dali container ship from the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge—and the Dali's crew remained on board, where they have been trapped for more than seven weeks since the ship hit the Baltimore bridge. The 21 sailors—20 Indian citizens and a Sri Lankan—have not been allowed to leave the ship since the March 26 disaster because of visa issues and ongoing National Transportation Safety Board and FBI investigations, reports the BBC. "While some crew members are coping, morale has understandably dipped," two Singapore-based unions representing seafarers said in a statement this week.

The unions said the men are distressed by an "unfounded fear of personal criminal liability" for the disaster, which killed six construction workers. The men's cellphones have been confiscated as part of the investigations and while they have received new ones, they are lacking data including contacts and banking details. "They can't do any online banking. They can't pay their bills at home," says Joshua Messick, executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers' Center, "They just can't reach out to the folks they need to, or even look at pictures of their children before they go to sleep. It's really a sad situation."

Barbara Shipley of the International Transport Workers' Federation tells the Baltimore Sun that when she visited the Dali with other union reps last month, the crew felt "helpless and sorrowful" about the loss of life. Messick says that when the ship is returned to port, the sailors may be eligible for shore passes, with heavy restrictions on their movements. But it could be a long time before they can go home. Darrell Wilson, a spokesperson for Synergy Marine, the ship's operator, tells the AP that the men will have to stay on the ship for the "foreseeable future." "Nobody knows that ship better than the crew," he says. "So they are instrumental in helping with the salvage operation as well as the investigation process." (More Baltimore bridge collapse stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.