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Federal Canal in the Port of Baltimore restored

The Chesapeake 1000 (“Chessy”) floating crane, equipped with “Gus” the hydraulic grab, wrestles a 90-ton piece of remaining wreckage from the Fort McHenry Federal Channel Friday morning, June 7, 2024. It takes about 45 minutes to unfold, Chessy and

The US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving announced Monday that they have successfully restored the Fort McHenry Federal Channel to its original dimensions of 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep.

This restoration comes after extensive efforts following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Since the bridge collapsed on March 26, the Unified Response Team has worked tirelessly to clear the wreckage and remove the Dali freighter from the canal.

The last survey on June 10 declared the riverbed safe for commercial maritime transit through the Port of Baltimore.

Initially, efforts focused on clearing debris and creating a limited access channel, allowing deep-draft commercial vessels to navigate the port.

On May 20, the M/V Dali was moved and the canal was widened to 400 feet to accommodate pre-collapse traffic. The fully restored canal now allows two-way traffic, lifting previous safety restrictions.

“We are proud of the collaborative efforts that have fully reopened the Federal Canal for port operations,” said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, USACE commanding general. “The partnerships that endured through this response made this critical mission a success.”

The restoration process included removing approximately 50,000 tons of bridge wreckage from the Patapsco River.

The Unified Command, consisting of six primary agencies and 1,587 responders from 56 federal, state and local agencies, led the operation.

More than 500 specialists from around the world contributed to the effort, using a fleet of 18 ships, 22 tugboats, 13 floating cranes, 10 excavators and four research boats.

“We have cleared the Fort McHenry Federal Channel for safe transit. USACE will maintain this critical waterway as we have for the past 107 years,” said Col. Estee Pinchasin, Baltimore District commander. “I cannot emphasize enough how proud I am of our team. It was incredible to see so many people from different parts of our government, from across the country and around the world, come together in the Unified Command and accomplish so much in this body of work. time.”

The wreck will be transported to Sparrows Point for processing, with ongoing work now part of routine maintenance to ensure future dredging is not impacted.

“While the overarching goal of restoring full operational capacity to the Federal Canal was successful, every day we thought about those who lost their lives, their families and the workers affected by this tragic event,” Pinchasin said. “Not a day went by that we didn’t think about them all, and that kept us going.”

The Unified Command said it was prioritizing the safety of the public and responders, accountability for missing persons, protection of the environment, stabilization of incidents and the restoration of transport infrastructure and commerce.