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UPDATE 4 Multimedia Release: Unified Command prepares for opening of temporary alternate channel around Key Bridge wreckage for commercially essential vessels

Sunday, March 31, 2024


BALTIMORE – The Captain of the Port (COTP) is preparing to establish a temporary alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vessels.

“This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore,” said Capt. David O’Connell, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024. “By opening this alternate route, we will support the flow of marine traffic into Baltimore.”


This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel. The temporary channel will be marked with government lighted aids to navigation and will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance 96 feet.


The current 2,000-yard safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect and is intended to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative.


The COTP will issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM) via VHF-FM marine channel 16. Mariners are requested to monitor the VHF channel 16 for the latest information.


Members of the public may not enter the safety zone unless authorized by the COTP or designated representative. Those in the safety zone must comply with all lawful orders or directions given to them by the COTP or designated representative.


A Debris Reporting Hotline has been established. If the public encounters any debris from the incident, please contact +1 (410) 205-6625

The Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command includes the:


U.S. Coast Guard  

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Maryland Department of the Environment  

Maryland Transportation Authority 

Maryland State Police 

Witt O’Brien’s representing Synergy Marine


A website with incident response information can be found at the following URL:  


The media is requested to call the Joint Information Center at +1 (410)-631-8939 for interview response inquiries and interviews.  


Resources are available for businesses and individuals impacted by the Port closure:

Benefit Line for Port of Baltimore Workers: +1 (667) 930-5989

Disaster Loan Assistance:   


The Unified Command’s operational priorities are ensuring the safety of the public and first responders, accountability of missing persons, safely restoring transportation infrastructure and commerce, protecting the environment, and supporting the investigation. 



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