Tangled in Steel With No Way Out: How the Crew Stuck in Baltimore Is Faring

Twenty-two seafarers from India find themselves not only trapped in the ship that struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge, but also in an unexpected spotlight.

Even from miles away, the destruction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is a jarring visual: Chunks of steel jut above the water like metallic icebergs. Twisted gray beams protrude in crooked positions. From a park near Fort McHenry, visitors can see the giant cargo ship that struck the bridge and remains lodged in the wreckage.

Less visible, however, are the 22 crew members from India who have remained on the ship, named the Dali, since the disaster on Tuesday.

Little is publicly known about them other than that they are seafarers who embarked on a journey aboard the 985-foot-long cargo ship that was on its way to Sri Lanka, carrying 4,700 shipping containers, when it lost power and struck the Key Bridge, causing the structure to collapse.

Since the accident, which killed six construction workers, the crew members have found themselves in an unexpected spotlight. While keeping the ship operable, they are answering a deluge of questions from officials investigating the nighttime catastrophe, as the evidence of what occurred lays around them in mangled ruins stretching across the bow and deck.

While officials investigate what could have caused the tragedy, another question has emerged this week: What could the crew members, who have limited access to the outside world, be going through right now?

“They must feel this weight of responsibility that they couldn’t stop it from happening,” said Joshua Messick, the executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center, a religious nonprofit that seeks to protect the rights of mariners.

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