How will Baltimore bridge collapse influence provide chains? – DW – 03/27/2024 | EUROtoday

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In the early hours of March 26, the Singapore-flagged ship Dali, loaded with 5,000 containers, slammed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, inflicting the 1.6-mile (2.5-kilometer) bridge to break down in a matter of seconds. The Dali was departing for Colombo when the catastrophe struck. Initial fears had been confirmed  that half a dozen individuals misplaced their lives within the accident.

Baltimore’s port needed to be shut down, leaving tens of millions of tons of coal, tons of of vehicles, and deliveries of lumber and gypsum stranded. About 40 ships had been able to depart on Tuesday, and a giant variety of ships coming from the Atlantic can’t dock “until further notice,” because the port’s authorities mentioned.

Financial markets reacted shortly to the bridge collapse, with shares of world delivery line Maersk plummeting 2.6% in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

But, an analyst from on-line dealer Nordnet advised the information company Reuters, in the long term, “this event is not a major catalyst for stock prices, unless something unpleasant comes up, like indications of gross negligence behind the accident.”

Gregory Daco, the chief economist at EY, additionally stays calm. “I think the macroeconomic effects will remain limited,” he advised Bloomberg News on Wednesday.

A picture of the Baltimore bridge before it collapsed
Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge could look good — however its security had been disputedImage: Patrick Semansky/AP/dpa/image alliance

‘Path to normalcy’

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned of a “major and protracted impact to supply chains” following the closure of the Port of Baltimore. “It’s too soon to offer estimates on what it will take to clear the channel and reopen the port,” he advised reporters throughout a briefing in Baltimore on Tuesday.

Buttigieg referred to the bridge as one of many “cathedrals of American infrastructure,” stressing that rebuilding it can take time. “The path to normalcy will not be easy,” he mentioned. “It will not be quick, it will not be inexpensive, but we will rebuild together.”

US President Joe Biden referred to as the collapse a “terrible accident,” and pledged to get the port reopened and the bridge rebuilt. “I intend for the federal government to cover the entire cost of rebuilding this bridge,” Biden mentioned in Washington.

Costs for rebuilding the bridge are estimated at $500 million to $1.2 billion (€462 million to €1.1 billion), with not less than two years of building time.

The Port of Baltimore is especially essential for importing and exporting vehicles and lightweight vehicles. Approximately 850,000 autos are shipped there yearly, supporting round 15,000 jobs. Additionally, the Francis Scott Key Bridge is a vital artery on the East Coast, with roughly 30,000 autos crossing the bridge day-after-day.

Ship in Baltimore port at the car terminal with car loading and unloading on background
Baltimore, which dealt with 3% of East and Gulf Coast imports in 2023, is essential for vehiclesImage: Alexey Lesik//Pond5 Images/IMAGO

Supply-chain worries reloaded?

European automakers, together with Mercedes, Volkswagen and BMW, keep in depth infrastructure within the Baltimore area for automobile cargo.

A spokesperson for the German premium carmaker BMW mentioned in an electronic mail to Reuters that the corporate doesn’t anticipate any fast influence apart from short-term site visitors delays. The firm makes use of the Port of Baltimore to import autos, however the automotive terminal is positioned on the harbor entrance, in entrance of the bridge, and may nonetheless be accessed, the spokesman added.

US automobile large Ford, nonetheless, should “divert parts to other ports,” which is able to influence its provide chain. Ford CFO John Lawler advised Reuters in a press release that “where workarounds are necessary in the short term, our team has already secured shipping alternatives.”

US authorities probe ship’s collision in bridge collapse

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Ryan Peterson, founder and CEO of logistics platform Flexport, mentioned that, with Baltimore dealing with only one.1 million containers in 2023, any influence on container charges and delivery prices from the disruption could be far lower than will increase brought on by cargoes diverted on account of the assaults by the Houthi militant group within the Red Sea.

“East Coast volumes are down and there is the ability for those ports to flex up to handle this,” he advised Bloomberg. He warned, nonetheless, of “traffic jams and delays” as a sudden enhance in site visitors at a port by 10% to twenty% could be sufficient to trigger all types of delays.

Ports in Germany

Ulf Kaspera, from the Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation in Hamburg, sees no imminent hazard of an analogous accident taking place in Germany.

A picture of the Neuenkamp bridge across the river Rhein near Duisburg, Germany
Most German bridges crossing huge rivers and waterways haven’t got pillars within the fairwayImage: Jochen Tack/image alliance

“The specific safety measures to be taken depend on the port operators,” he advised DW, noting that in Hamburg, for instance, it’s necessary for giant ships to be towed and maneuvered in huge areas of the port. The use of tugboats can “prevent such accidents,” he mentioned.

Josef Hegger, from the Institute of Structural Concrete at RWTH Aachen University, mentioned the accident in Baltimore might have been prevented. The college lecturer is an skilled in bridge building, and advised German information company dpa {that a} mixture of varied structural measures can obtain the very best degree of security.

“The pillar must have a certain resilience so that it does not collapse at the slightest impact,” he mentioned.

Germany’s Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute has established strict guidelines relating to the forces that bridge pillars should have the ability to face up to upon influence. In addition, so-called guardrails on bridges are supposed to stop collisions with the pillars.

“On the Rhine bridges, the large pillars and pylons are often located at the edge of the river so that the river opening is completely free,” Hegger mentioned. “If there is a pillar in the middle, it is relatively massive and wedge-shaped and would deflect a ship that hits it.”

Hegger mentioned ships had been extra more likely to run aground there “before hitting the pillar with full force.”

This article was initially written in German.