First Ships Transit Alternate Channel at Key Bridge


The tugboat Crystal Coast pushes a fuel barge through the temporary alternate channel created by the Key Bridge Response Unified Command, near the Key Bridge incident, in Baltimore, Maryland, April 1, 2024. The Crystal Coast is the first vessel to use the channel since the bridge collapsed into the federal waterway on March 26th. (U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Bacon)

The first barge transited a temporary alternate channel that was created by the Key Bridge Response Unified Command Monday afternoon – a fuel barge headed for Dover Air Force Base. This temporary alternate channel is for commercially-essential vessels and will be for limited transit during daylight hours only. A second temporary alternate channel is being established on the southwest side of the main channel – and will allow for some deeper draft vessels – to 15 or 16 feet.

Additional Information on the Second Temporary Alternate Channel:

The Captain of the Port (COTP) established a second temporary alternate channel on the southwest side of the main channel near Hawkins Point in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vessels.

This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel. The second temporary channel is marked with government lighted aids to navigation and will be limited to transit at the discretion of the COTP and during daylight hours only.

It has a controlling depth of 14 feet, a 280-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 124 feet.

“The opening of these two alternate channels and transit of critical response resources, as well as the first commercial traffic movements through the area, is a significant milestone in our response efforts,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Baxter Smoak, operations section chief of the Key Bridge Response 2024. “Our number one priority remains the opening of the deep draft channel. We are simultaneously focused on opening additional routes of increased capacity as we move forward.”

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. 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.

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

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

For updated information – Key Bridge Response 2024