Baltimore bridge collapse – A perspective from outside



By Raji Sivaraman & Dr. Te Wu

Singapore and USA

During the early morning hours of March 26th, 2024, a Singapore registered container ship, the m.v. DALI, (deadweight* of 116,800MT with a capacity of 9, 971 TEUs**), collides with one of the support structures of the Francis Scott Key Bridge spanning across the Patapsco River in Baltimore Harbor. Initial reports suggest that the ship lost propulsion and power, traveling at about 8 knots southeast with a light northeast wind blowing on to its port (left), with 8 or 9 tiers of containers on deck (mid ship). It appears that within a few minutes, the ship’s crew, and the pilots on board, managed to drop the port anchor, which is a manual process, alert the relevant authorities on shore through a MAYDAY call while attempting to restore power and propulsion, in darkness on board ship and on shore. From a project management viewpoint, it appears that everyone on board and ashore on short notice knew what they had to do, putting their training into practice, to mitigate the situation. Sadly 6 lives were lost on the Key Bridge, but the situation could have been worse if there was more traffic on the bridge.

With the closure of the Port of Baltimore, ships are already being diverted to other ports in the eastern seaboard such as New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia PA, and Norfolk, VA. CSX and Seagirt terminal are working on ways to move import containers from other northeast ports into Baltimore for local pickup so as to reduce congestion at the other northeast ports. Stemming from this disruption are new projects that supply chain professionals will need to put together quickly.

The dislocations of import and export cargo stress tests the agility of onshore infrastructure such as trucking and warehousing. As distribution centers of the shippers in the Baltimore area are equipped and trained with their ERP systems, it is unlikely that shippers will make major change to the locations of these centers. What is likely to happen is for supply chain project managers to remodel their current transport network and assets quickly and connect to alternative ports to cater for this emergency. Agility is important as any delay will create congestion at the various interchange points.

Similarly, planning teams of the ships’ operators and marine terminals would have formed task forces to cater for the influx of cargo at these terminals and possibly longer dwell time of the ships, possibly causing congestion offshore.  Finally, manufacturers’ and retailers’ project teams are already looking into their risk management playbook to cater for contingencies by pulling in materials and assets from other parts of the country. As expected, what has been mustered is an industry-wide effort to mitigate the stress on the supply chain. Ironically, just coming out of the pandemic situation, our memories are still fresh as to what will be the anxiety when supply chains breakdown.


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How to cite this article: Sivaraman, R. and Wu, T. (2024).  Baltimore bridge collapse – A perspective from outside, commentary, PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue VI, June.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/pmwj142-Jun2024-Sivaraman-Wu-Baltimore-bridge-collapse-commentary.pdf

About the Authors

Raji Sivaraman



Raji Sivaraman, M. S, PMI-ACP, PMP, PMO-CP Principal of ASBA LLC, a Singapore citizen, helps USA/Singapore companies with strategic planning/overseas startups. Speaks several languages. Worked in Singapore/Thailand/India/USA. Advanced Sustainability Researcher, Author, Contributor to Project Management books, published articles, research papers internationally. Global facilitator, Keynote speaker, Discussant/Academic chair/Moderator CXO Forum/ Panelist/Agile practitioner. Lead fortune 50/500 companies with CSR/BSR/Mobility projects. Consultant, Director, Strategic Advisor, and an Advisory Board member for non-profit organizations. Worked in IT, publishing, financial, standards and logistics industries as a lead project manager and implementation manager.  Adjunct Professor at Montclair University, USA. Held leadership positions with the PMI at the chapter/global level, inaugural IPMA HackDays Chair to date. A Pracademic. Distinguished Women leaders of Singapore, 2013. Learn more at http://agilitydiscoveries.com; contact Raji at https://www.linkedin.com/in/raji-sivaraman/


Prof Dr. Te Wu



Prof. Dr. Te Wu is the CEO and CPO of PMO Advisory, a professional project management training and consulting firm.  He is also an Associate Professor at Montclair State University and the former chairperson of the PMI’s Portfolio Management Standard Committee. Previously, Te served on various standard bodies, including PMI, ISO, and ANSI. Te has over 30 years of experience specializing in strategy execution. Te is certified in Portfolio, Program, Project, and Risk Management (PfMP, PgMP, PMP, and PMI-RMP credentials) and holds one doctorate, two master’s and two bachelor’s degrees. As a practitioner, executive, and speaker, Dr. Wu enjoys working on a range of professional endeavors to advance the field of project, program, and portfolio management, PMO, and strategic business execution. Learn more at https://www.pmoadvisory.com/; contact Dr. Wu at https://www.linkedin.com/in/te-wu/