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Baltimore sues Dali’s owner and manager for negligence in key bridge collision

Baltimore officials accuse the Singapore-flagged vessel’s owner and manager of negligence in the Francis Scott Key Bridge collision. City lawyers assert they failed to recognize the vessel’s unsuitability for the voyage and ensure a competent crew.



UNITED STATES: The Baltimore officials on Monday (22 April) have levelled accusations against the owner and manager of the Singapore-flagged vessel, Dali involved in the collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

In a legal action directed at Synergy Marine and Grace Ocean, the ship’s manager and owner respectively, the city’s attorneys have alleged gross negligence, possibly even reaching criminal levels.

Following the collapse of the bridge on 26 March, the two companies swiftly petitioned the court to limit their liability under an 1851 maritime law.

This procedure, though routine, carries significant implications, as a federal court in Maryland will ultimately determine culpability and potential compensation, with this incident potentially marking one of the most financially consequential maritime disasters in history.

The vessel, named Dali and owned by Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Ltd, collided with the bridge after veering off course shortly after departure from Baltimore.

Synergy Marine Pte Ltd, also Singapore-based, serves as the ship’s manager.

City lawyers, in their recent filing, have accused the companies of negligence, contending that they should have recognized the vessel’s unsuitability for the voyage and ensured it was manned by a competent crew, among other safety concerns.

In response to the litigation, a spokesperson for the companies declined to comment, citing the ongoing nature of the legal proceedings.

The ship, bound for Sri Lanka, experienced a power failure shortly after departing Baltimore, resulting in a collision with the bridge’s support column.

Six lives were taken in catastrophic collision

This catastrophic event tragically claimed the lives of six members of a roadwork crew.

“The Key Bridge has witnessed thousands of cargo ship passages without incident for over four decades,” reads the city’s complaint.

“There was nothing about 26 March, that warranted a departure from this safety record.”

Last week, FBI agents boarded the stranded vessel as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board has launched a separate federal probe, focusing on potential power issues the ship may have encountered before its departure. Specifically, this investigation will delve into Dali’s electrical system.

In their initial petition, Grace Ocean and Synergy aimed to limit their liability to approximately US$43.6 million.

This request was based on an assessment valuing the vessel itself at up to US$90 million, with anticipated freight income exceeding US$1.1 million.

However, the estimate also factors in significant expenses, including projected repair costs of at least US$28 million and salvage expenses totalling at least US$19.5 million.

Furthermore, Grace Ocean has taken steps to offset some of the salvage expenses by requiring cargo owners to contribute.

This initiative involves a “general average” declaration, permitting a third-party adjuster to determine each stakeholder’s share of the costs.

Baltimore officials contend that the ship’s owner and manager bear responsibility for the disaster, which has not only halted maritime traffic through the Port of Baltimore but also disrupted a crucial trucking route along the east coast.

The filing highlights the potentially devastating economic consequences for the Baltimore region.

Attorneys representing the victims of the collapse and their families have vowed to hold the companies accountable and challenge their bid for limited liability.

Meanwhile, salvage teams are diligently working to clear the Patapsco River of the thousands of tons of steel and concrete debris resulting from the collapse.

Although they have established three temporary passages to facilitate the passage of some vessels, the main shipping channel of the port is anticipated to remain inaccessible for several more weeks.

MPA: Dali passed 2 inspections in 2023

Last month, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) confirmed the initiation of an investigation into the collision incident.

Additionally, MPA collaborated with the US Coast Guard to examine the collision’s cause and determine compliance with Singapore’s Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

In a statement released on 27 March, MPA highlighted that during the June 2023 inspection, a faulty monitor gauge for fuel pressure had been rectified before the vessel departed the port.

MPA further stated that the vessel, named Dali, had been flagged with Singapore since October 2016 and is classified by the renowned classification society, ClassNK.

“Classification societies are generally authorised by a flag administration to monitor compliance to technical standards and the applicable regulations by vessels registered under its flag.”

“Based on records, MPA confirms that the vessel’s required classification society and statutory certificates covering the structural integrity of the vessel and functionality of the vessel’s equipment were valid at the time of the incident.”

22 Indian national crew members onboard reportedly uninjured

According to a spokesman from Synergy Marine Group quoted in the Singapore state media, the Straits Times, the two port pilots onboard the Dali during the accident are local residents of Baltimore, while the 22 crew members are all Indian nationals.

The spokesman stated that Synergy is responsible for the recruitment and management of the crew aboard the Dali, all of whom are safe and have not reported any injuries.

He further mentioned that Synergy personnel are present at the site to aid US authorities with their inquiries, affirming the company’s full cooperation.

Synergy Marine Group, as per its website, operates 28 offices worldwide and manages 668 vessels, employing 24,000 seafarers globally.

CNN: Synergy Marine Group linked to three deadly incidents since 2018

According to CNN, ships under Synergy Marine Group’s management have been implicated in at least three fatal incidents since 2018, as per investigations and statements from authorities in Australia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

In 2018, a person onboard a Synergy-managed vessel in Australia died in an accident involving the ship’s personnel elevator, according to a report from the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau.

In 2019, an officer on a Synergy-registered vessel in Singapore went missing, likely having fallen overboard while performing inspection or cleaning tasks, as per a report by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau.

The report highlighted that conducting a risk assessment before the officer’s tasks could have identified potential hazards, leading to the inclusion of appropriate safety measures.

The report noted that if a risk assessment had been completed before the officer started their work it might have identified the risks involved and “the appropriate level of safety measures would have been included.”

In 2023, at least one sailor was killed when a Synergy Marine-managed tanker collided with a dredging ship in the Philippines, causing it to capsize, as reported by the Philippines Coast Guard.

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Better wait for the assessment on whether it is technical issues (with the ship) or the human error (crew including the local pilot). USA is a very litigious place; still the fact remains it was the ship that hit the bridge, not the bridge hitting the ship. (Only ppl like Hamas lovers would turn facts round and say bridge hit ship).


Likely bankrupt Baltimore trying to strongarm little Singapore for money? The ship BEFORE and at the point of collision was under control of their OWN harbour pilot. The ship passed TWO inspections in 2023 ie: less than a year ago. Is the ship ACTUALLY fit to sail? IF yes, ship owner and operator not liable. If not, sue those who inspected and PASSED the ship fitness to sail certification. If due to Putin, too bad, go suck your thumb. (PARTIAL) payback for Nord Stream II sabotage 🙂

Is one going to witness, stg like Keppel Giving Briberies escape punishment in Sillypore, home ground advantage, bcz of political bias, but INDICTED by the fair and just USA 🇺🇸 DoJ?

Well it’s not these Millionaire Bastards own money to disburse as fines by Baltimore, good luck Sheeps. SG Reserves are unlimited for the PAP to raid.

This is huge, very very huge, astronomical. Loss of port usage, loss of fees, loss of lives, containers hold up, repairs, time expiry of goods held up (like perishables, veggies, meats), trendy items loss of timely sales, reconstruction costs xxxx millions.

D Trump has to pay EJ Carroll almost a $100 million USD. Letitia James sued Trump and succeed yo penalise him almost USD 500 millions.

How much is this penalty estimate, probably $3, 5 USD Billions. Good luck to all, INCLUDING MPA? Well SG taxpayers are SUCKERS looks gonna be.

Understand both companies foreign trash owned. Good luck.

Dali and it’s owners are in deep shit with this one.

The City of Baltimore says the collapse was caused by the owner’s “carelessness, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness and as a result of the unseaworthiness” of the ship.

All concerned will probably want to know which are two foreign ports that conducted the tests in 2023, … that allowed Dali’s continued sailing.

Bridges can be repaired, replaced and built, … but lives were lost and the repercussions will be serious and severe !!!

SG’s reputation keeps going down and down nowadays. Dilute good wine with cheap wine (to make the brewery looks bigger double fast) only can give rojak wine.

This is the best opportunities for astronomical sum

Death family should be compensate in the range of Millions .

Sue till both company bankrupt

22 crew on board. None SGrean. The fact they had overqualified Indian nationals on board says it all. Lots one can learn when a certain ethnicity runs a show for you.