Access Channel reopening

15 May 2024 / Baltimore, United States

The Captain of the Port (COTP) will reopen the Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel for commercial vessel traffic daily from 8pm to 6am on May 14.

This channel will have a controlling depth of 48 feet, 350-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance of 214 feet due to the adjacent BG&E powerlines. The available depth and width may increase based on future survey analysis as salvage operations continue. Vessel transits will remain at the discretion of the COTP, based on the prevailing weather conditions and salvage operations. Deep draft vessels utilizing this channel will require a Maryland State Pilot and two escort tugs. The Maryland Pilots will impose a 3 foot under keel clearance (UKC) requirement for all vessels and limit transits to winds being less than 15 knots Weather Forecast for 39.22N 76.54W. The pilots will not impose any beam restrictions for RO-ROs, Con-ROs, and cruise ships; however, all other transits will be limited to vessels with a beam of 106 feet or less (e.g. container ships, freight ships, tankers, and bulk carriers). Due to ongoing salvage operations in the area, all transits must be at the slowest safe speed but not to exceed 5 knots while the M/V DALI is in place and less than 10 knots following the M/V DALI’s refloat.

The Fort Carroll Temporary Access Channel remains open with a controlling depth of 20 feet, a 300-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance of 135 feet will be available for transits of non-deep draft commercial vessels between the hours of 8pm to 8am daily.

The Sollers Point Temporary Alternate Channel remains open for commercial vessel traffic with a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance of 95 feet; as well as the Hawkins Point Temporary Alternate Channel with a controlling depth of 14 feet, a 280-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance of 124 feet will remain.

Scheduling Commercial Access: You may not enter the safety zone described above unless authorized by the COTP or the COTP’s designated representative. To obtain permission to enter the safety zone and transit through any of the established limited access channel or any temporary alternate channel, you must, as early as possible but no less than 4 hours prior to getting underway, contact the Marine Transportation System Recovery Branch (MTSRB) at (505) 203-8141 and [email protected]. These requests must be received between the hours of 8am to 6pm. Movement requests before 10am must be received prior to 6pm the previous day. All movements are subject to the prevailing weather conditions, response and recovery efforts.

Recreational vessels: The Sollers Point Temporary Alternate Channel is available for use by recreational vessels on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for transits from 3:30pm to 5:30pm. Recreational vessels do not need to schedule with the MTSRB but should transit at a no wake speed, stay well clear of Sparrows Point and all vessels engaged in salvage and safety operations, and remain within the marked channel.

The 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 first obtaining permission from the COTP via scheduling with the MTSRB as outlined above.

When the M/V DALI is refloated, all traffic through the three Temporary Alternate Channels and the Limited Access Channel will be suspended until the vessel is safely moored.

(For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in the United States, contact GAC North America at [email protected])

Source: U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-NCR Marine Safety Information Bulletin 048-24 dated 14 May 2024

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