UPDATE V: Officially reopened – the Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel to an available depth of 45 feet for commercial vessel traffic

»The U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port has officially reopened the Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel to an available depth of 45 feet for commercial vessel traffic daily from 8 pm to 6 am. The channel has a 350-foot horizontal clearance and a vertical clearance of 214 feet due to BGE 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 Coast Guard, based on the prevailing weather conditions and salvage operations.

Deep draft vessels using this channel will require a Maryland Pilot and a two tug escort. 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 Dali vessel is in place and less than 10 knots following the Dali’s refloat.

The three other temporary channels currently in use (the 20, 14, and 11-foot deep channels) remain open and should be utilized by vessels that do not require the deeper channel.

In order to transit any channel, you must be authorized by the Coast Guard. 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 at (505) 203-8141 and MTSrecoveryMDNCR@uscg.mil. These requests must be received between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Movement requests before 10 a.m. must be received prior to 6 p.m. the previous day. All movements are subject to the prevailing weather conditions, response and recovery efforts.

Recreational Vessels: The 11-foot deep Sollers Point Temporary Alternate Channel is available for use by recreational vessels on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for transits from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Recreational vessels do not need to schedule in advance 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 Coast Guard via scheduling as outlined above.

When the 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.

The Port of Baltimore’s permanent 700-foot wide, 50-foot deep channel is expected to be reopened by the end of May.