Francis Scott Key Bridge – Port Accumulations


The port of Baltimore, Maryland is nestled along the shores of Chesapeake Bay, playing a vital part in global trade.
Despite a smaller footprint than other ports in the USA, it ranked ninth largest port in terms of overall trade for 2023, handling efficiently diverse cargoes including coal, sugar, and automobiles for which it ranks as the first port in the USA, handling nearly 30k RORO units in 2023.

The largest cargo terminals in the Baltimore port are:

  1. Tradepoint Atlantic: Private terminal with unrestricted access to Chesapeake Bay.
  2. Dundalk Marine Terminal (MPA): A bustling hub for cars, farms, and machinery equipment.
  3. Seagirt Marine Terminal (MPA/Ports America): Container traffic powerhouse.
  4. Fairfield Marine Terminal (MPA)/ (Auto Warehousing Corp): Key in automobile logistics.

The port boasts six public and 33 private terminals, located on the sides of the Patapsco River, inside of the Francis Scott Bridge, except the Tradepoint Atlantic terminal which has unrestricted access to Chesapeake Bay.

Cargo exposure on quayside

On March 26th, 2024, a laden 9,962 TEU containership, the “Dali” (IMO 9697428), lost steering and propulsion control. This resulted in a catastrophic collision with a bridge pillar, causing the collapse of a nearly 3km section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge spanning the Patapsco River. This incident has effectively severed all waterway access to the Baltimore port, except the Tradepoint Atlantic terminal.

Figure 1 analyses the Baltimore port’s largest terminals based on high-resolution optical satellite imagery acquired on March 29th, 2024. Utilizing proprietary machine learning algorithms, Skytek provides an accurate count of containers at the Seagirt Marine Terminal, which specializes in container handling. Additionally, the figure analyzes the Dundalk Marine Terminal, specializing in cars, farm equipment, and building machinery. The image represents the cargo exposure in the largest terminals in the Baltimore port, indicating the location where the containership Dali hit the Francis Scott Bridge.

Figures 2 and 3 contrast cargo exposure details on the two terminals at two moments in time, Skytek empowering users to monitor exposure continuously and accurately in the port.

Figure 1 - Skytek analysis of Baltimore’s main terminals cargo exposure on March 29th, 2024, as extracted from Planet Labs satellite imagery.
Figure 2 - Cargo exposure analysis Skytek extracts from Planet Labs satellite imagery on November 11th, 2023.
Figure 3 - Cargo exposure analysis Skytek extracts from Planet Labs satellite imagery on March 29th, 2024.

Cargo exposure on merchant ships

Figure 4 represents seven merchant ships and four navy ships, that Skytek recorded on March 26th, 2024, Skytek moored inside of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which are expected to be effectively trapped inside the port until the navigation on the Fort McHenry channel is restored.

The four navy ships are part of the Atlantic division within the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) ships of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, owned and maintained by the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD). With maximum drafts of up to 11.6m, these ships will need the navigation on Fort McHenry fully restored before being able to sail out of the port.

The cargo ships sum up more than half a million tonnes in ships’ deadweight (DWT), and around $250 million in the hull estimated market value, as modelled by the Skytek platform.

Figure 4 - List of the cargo and navy ships trapped behind the Francis Scott Key Bridge from March 26th, 2024.

Data from March 26th, 2024 shows the traffic in Baltimore with 39 incoming vessels. Bulk carriers dominated the traffic, accounting for 36% of the ships. Car carriers comprised another significant portion at 26%, while general cargo ships made up the remaining 18%.

Several ships proceeding to Baltimore have been rerouted, but records of April 02nd, 2024 indicate that ten ships are still anchored and show a destination of Baltimore.


Based on a year of data, Baltimore typically sees 157 ship visits per month. Vehicle carriers make up the largest share at 29%, followed by containerships (28%) and bulk carriers (24%).

In March 2024, there were 39 car carriers handling over 28,000 vehicles docked at Baltimore, falling short of the usual monthly average of 46 ships a month, that Skytek noted during the past year.

On average, three cruise ships are visiting at Baltimore each month, but following the recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, all maritime traffic has come to a halt and is not expected to resume before the end of May 2024.

EO satellite image providers:


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