So far, 34 containers have been removed from the cargo ship Dali and 32 vessels have passed through temporary shipping channels established after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and other officials said Wednesday.

Moore said removing about 178 shipping containers from the massive cargo ship would be necessary to refloat the vessel. That’s so crews can safely complete the work of salvaging the pieces of the Key Bridge that fell directly on the ship early on March 26. The thousands of other containers on the ship don’t need to be removed before the Dali can move again, officials said.

The salvage work is “remarkably complex,” Moore said at a news conference.

The Army Corps of Engineers has laid out an ambitious timeline to have a third, deeper channel open into the port by the end of April to restore more commercial access, and to fully reopen the port by the end of May.

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Additionally, officials at the Unified Command, which is overseeing the effort, said 32 vessels had made 66 transits through the Port of Baltimore as of about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The Dali cargo ship, next to the the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, is seen from a Department of Natural Resources boat on the Patapsco River in Baltimore, on April 10, 2024. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said the vessels that have passed through are mostly tugboats and barges. He didn’t have information on what they were carrying, but noted that the Pride of Baltimore II was able to use one of the temporary channels to return to the harbor this week, after docking in Annapolis temporarily.

And, he said, “several” vessels that had planned to call at the port have been rerouted to Tradepoint Atlantic, which is located upriver of the accident site.

Salvage crews continue to work all day cutting up the pieces of the bridge in the Patapsco River and removing them. They’re also working to dig up parts of the bridge span that fell into the water and under the mud and sediment of the riverbed.

Col. Estee S. Pinchasen of the Army Corps of Engineers said officials are “very confident” in the “science-based” timeline for continuing the salvage work and reopening the channels. She said the timeline accounted for unknown factors, the weather and other things that could cause delays.

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, seen here with President Joe Biden, has praised the federal government’s response to the Key Bridge collapse, including early and constant communication and the quick availability of federal funds. (Kylie Cooper)

As of April 8, six drone operators had violated the restricted airspace over the Key Bridge, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Maryland State Police Superintendent Roland L. Butler Jr. said Wednesday that unauthorized drones in the airspace are a distraction to salvage workers, and put their safety at risk.

He said law enforcement is committed to identifying and prosecuting unauthorized drone pilots.

Also Wednesday, Mayor Brandon Scott announced that the city will take additional steps to support families impacted by the port’s closure, setting aside $500,000 in rental assistance for eligible port workers.

The funding is an expansion on an existing city rental assistance program and adds to $1 million the Scott administration earmarked a week earlier to subsidize the wages of workers who have lost work with the port closure — enough to help about 130 people, according to city officials. The mayor also directed the city to provide affected workers with support to help cover their electricity and water bills through existing utility assistance programs.

Baltimore Banner Adam Willis contributed to this report.

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