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Baltimore Shipping Crisis News: Adapting to the Key Bridge Collapse

Jude Abraham

The collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore, caused by a collision with the 10,000 TEU container vessel Dali, has sent shockwaves through the shipping industry. As a critical hub for roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) cargo and a significant container port, the Port of Baltimore’s temporary closure presents immediate challenges for importers, exporters, and logistics providers alike.

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The Incident and Its Impact

On Tuesday, the Maersk/MSC 2M alliance vessel Dali collided with a support of the Key Bridge while departing the Port of Baltimore, bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka. The collision led to the bridge’s collapse, effectively closing the port and trapping several vessels inside.

Port of Baltimore’s Significance

The Port of Baltimore, handling 1.1 million TEU in 2023, ranks as the largest ro-ro port in the United States, processing approximately 750,000 vehicles annually, with imports accounting for 70% of this volume. Additionally, Baltimore is a vital hub for container traffic on the East Coast, although not among the top ten North American container ports.

Challenges for Exporters and Importers


With the port’s container terminals inaccessible due to the bridge collapse, exporters face the difficult decision of either waiting for the waterway to reopen or rerouting their cargo by truck or rail to alternate ports such as Norfolk or New York/New Jersey. This rerouting may lead to increased trucking and rail rates, as well as potential congestion at the alternate ports.


Seven container vessels were scheduled to arrive in Baltimore through Saturday, carrying imports that will now likely be diverted to other major East Coast hubs. These diversions could cause congestion and delays for importers, potentially impacting freight rates on the Asia-US East Coast and transatlantic routes.

Potential Congestion and Rate Implications

Absorbing Diverted Volumes

While alternate ports are expected to handle the diverted volumes without significant disruption, the additional traffic could lead to some congestion and delays. Baltimore’s quarterly container volumes in Q4 2023 represented approximately 13% of those handled by New York/New Jersey, indicating that the impact may be manageable.

Freight Rate Pressures

Asia-US East Coast rates, already elevated due to diversions away from the Red Sea, could face further upward pressure if congestion develops at alternate ports. However, the current slow season in ocean freight may help mitigate these pressures. Transatlantic rates, presently on par with 2019 levels, may also experience some upward movement.

The Road Ahead

Resilience and Adaptation

The shipping industry, no stranger to disruptions, has built resilience into its operations. Logistics providers and shippers are already exploring alternatives, such as rerouting cargo through nearby ports and leveraging truck and rail connections to minimize the impact on supply chains.

Collaboration and Communication

As the situation unfolds, close collaboration and clear communication among shippers, carriers, and logistics providers will be essential to navigate the challenges posed by the Key Bridge collapse effectively. By working together and remaining agile, the industry can mitigate the impact of this disruption and ensure the continued flow of goods.

Freightos: Enabling Agility and Resilience

As the Port of Baltimore works to resume operations, the industry remains vigilant, flexible, and proactive in its response. In the face of supply chain disruptions, Freightos empowers shippers and logistics providers with the tools and insights needed to adapt quickly. By leveraging Freightos’ online marketplace, shippers can easily compare rates, book shipments, and explore alternative routing options to minimize the impact on their supply chains. The platform’s real-time data and market intelligence help stakeholders make informed decisions and remain agile in the face of adversity.

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Jude Abraham

Jude Abraham is Freightos’ Content Marketing Lead and a seasoned high-tech storyteller who has created award-winning content for global brands.

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